Zika virus (ZIKV) has recently caused a pandemic disease, and many cases of ZIKV infection in pregnant women resulted in abortion, stillbirth, deaths and congenital defects including microcephaly, which now has been proposed as ZIKV congenital syndrome. This study aimed to investigate the in situ immune response profile and mechanisms of neuronal cell damage in fatal Zika microcephaly cases. Brain tissue samples were collected from 15 cases, including 10 microcephalic ZIKV-positive neonates with fatal outcome and five neonatal control flavivirus-negative neonates that died due to other causes, but with preserved central nervous system (CNS) architecture. In microcephaly cases, the histopathological features of the tissue samples were characterized in three CNS areas (meninges, perivascular space, and parenchyma). The changes found were mainly calcification, necrosis, neuronophagy, gliosis, microglial nodules, and inflammatory infiltration of mononuclear cells. The in situ immune response against ZIKV in the CNS of newborns is complex. Despite the predominant expression of Th2 cytokines, other cytokines such as Th1, Th17, Treg, Th9, and Th22 are involved to a lesser extent, but are still likely to participate in the immunopathogenic mechanisms of neural disease in fatal cases of microcephaly caused by ZIKV.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease whose evolution involves complex immune mechanisms of the host that influence the clinical presentation of the disease. For many years, the main interpretation of the host defense response was based on characterization of the established immune paradigm between T helper (Th) 1 and Th2 lymphocytes. However, with advances in the knowledge of immunology, new approaches have emerged along with the development of new immunological pathways that have changed the interpretation of the long-established paradigm of the polar forms of the disease, especially with the identification of new subtypes of T lymphocytes such as Th9, Th17, Th22, and Tregs. Thus, this review discusses the role of these new subtypes of T helper lymphocytes and how the development of the immune response of these cells modifies the pattern of the Th1/Th2 response in the immunopathogenesis of leprosy.
Zika virus (ZIKV) has caused substantial concern worldwide owing to its association with severe birth defects, such as microcephaly and other congenital malformations. Inflammasomes, i.e., multi-protein complexes that induce inflammation and pyroptosis, are predicted to contribute to the immune response to this flavivirus. Accordingly, in this study, the in situ inflammasome response was evaluated in fatal cases of ZIKV-linked microcephaly. Brain tissue samples were collected from eight babies, including four ZIKV-positive microcephalic neonates who died after birth and four flavivirus-negative neonatal controls who died of other causes and whose central nervous system (CNS) architecture was preserved. In the ZIKV-positive newborn/stillbirth babies, the major histopathological alterations included atrophy of the cortical layer, a predominance of mononuclear cell infiltration in the Virchow-Robin space, neuronal necrosis, vacuolization and neuronal degeneration, neuronophagy, and gliosis. An immunohistochemical analysis of tissues in the neural parenchyma showed significantly higher expression of the receptors NLRP1, NLRP3, and AIM2, cytokines IL-1β, IL-18, and IL-33, and enzymes caspase 1, iNOS, and arginase 1 in ZIKV-positive microcephaly cases than in flavivirus-negative controls. These results suggest that inflammasome activation can aggravate the neuroinflammatory response and consequently increase CNS damage in neonates with fetal neural ZIKV infection and microcephaly.
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a single-stranded positive-sense RNA flavivirus that possesses a genome approximately 10.7 Kb in length. Although pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines and apoptotic markers belonging to the extrinsic and intrinsic pathways are suggested to be involved in fatal cases of ZIKV-induced microcephaly, their exact roles and associations are unclear. To address this, brain tissue samples were collected from 10 individuals, five of whom were diagnosed as ZIKV positive with microcephaly and a further five were flavivirus-negative controls that died because of other causes. Examination of material from the fatal cases of microcephaly revealed lesions in the cerebral cortex, edema, vascular proliferation, neuronal necrosis, gliosis, neuronophagy, calcifications, apoptosis, and neuron loss. The expression of various apoptosis markers in the neural parenchyma, including FasL, FAS, BAX, BCL2, and caspase 3 differed between ZIKV-positive cases and controls. Further investigation of type 1 and 2 helper T-cell cytokines confirmed a greater anti-inflammatory response in fatal ZIKV-associated microcephaly cases. Finally, an analysis of the linear correlation between tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-1β, IL-4, IL-10, transforming growth factor-β, and IL-33 expression and various apoptotic markers suggested that the immune response may be associated with the apoptotic phenomenon observed in ZIKV-induced microcephaly.
Neurotrophins are a family of proteins that regulate different aspects of biological development and neural function and are of great importance in neuroplasticity. This group of proteins has multiple functions in neuronal cells, as well as in other cellular populations. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neurotrophin that is endogenously produced during development and maturation by multiple cell types, including neurons, Schwann cells, oligodendrocytes, lymphocytes, mast cells, macrophages, keratinocytes, and fibroblasts. These cells produce proNGF, which is transformed by proteolytic cleavage into the biologically active NGF in the endoplasmic reticulum. The present review describes the role of NGF in the pathogenesis of leprosy and its correlations with different clinical forms of the disease and with the phenomena of regeneration and neural injury observed during infection. We discuss the involvement of NGF in the induction of neural damage and the pathophysiology of pain associated with peripheral neuropathy in leprosy. We also discuss the roles of immune factors in the evolution of this pathological process. Finally, we highlight avenues of investigation for future research to broaden our understanding of the role of NGF in the pathogenesis of leprosy. Our analysis of the literature indicates that NGF plays an important role in the evolution and outcome of Mycobacterium leprae infection. The findings described here highlight an important area of investigation, as leprosy is one of the main causes of infection in the peripheral nervous system.
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