Review Article | Published:

Infectious immunity in the central nervous system and brain function

Nature Immunology volume 18, pages 132141 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

Inflammation is emerging as a critical mechanism underlying neurological disorders of various etiologies, yet its role in altering brain function as a consequence of neuroinfectious disease remains unclear. Although acute alterations in mental status due to inflammation are a hallmark of central nervous system (CNS) infections with neurotropic pathogens, post-infectious neurologic dysfunction has traditionally been attributed to irreversible damage caused by the pathogens themselves. More recently, studies indicate that pathogen eradication within the CNS may require immune responses that interfere with neural cell function and communication without affecting their survival. In this Review we explore inflammatory processes underlying neurological impairments caused by CNS infection and discuss their potential links to established mechanisms of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Williams for critical reading of the manuscript. Funding for this research was provided by the US National Institutes of Health grants T32 HL007317 (N.H.), R01 NS052632, P01 NS059560, R01 AI126909, R21AI114549 and U19 AI083019 (R.S.K.) and a grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis society (R.S.K.).

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

    • Robyn S Klein
    • , Charise Garber
    •  & Nicole Howard
  2. Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

    • Robyn S Klein
  3. Department of Neuroscience, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

    • Robyn S Klein
  4. Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

    • Nicole Howard

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robyn S Klein.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ni.3656

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