Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Viruses in blood lead to digestive problems


While studying viruses best known for infecting the brain, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis stumbled upon clues to a conundrum involving a completely different part of the anatomy: the bowel, and why some people possibly develop digestive problems seemingly out of the blue.

The researchers found that viruses such as West Nile and Zika that target the nervous system in the brain and spinal cord also can kill neurons in the guts of mice, disrupting bowel movement and causing intestinal blockages. Other viruses that infect neurons also may cause the same symptoms, the researchers said.

Postdoctoral researcher and first author James White, PhD, was studying mice infected with West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne virus that causes inflammation in the brain, when he noticed something peculiar. The intestines of some of the infected mice were packed with waste higher up and empty farther down, as if they had a blockage.

The findings, published Oct. 4 in the journal Cell, potentially could explain why some people experience recurrent, unpredictable bouts of abdominal pain and constipation -- and perhaps point to a new strategy for preventing such conditions.

See:

James P. White, Shanshan Xiong, Nicole P. Malvin, William Khoury-Hanold, Robert O. Heuckeroth, Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck, Michael S. Diamond. Intestinal Dysmotility Syndromes following Systemic Infection by Flaviviruses. Cell, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.069

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

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