Memory loss from West Nile virus may be preventable

From Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
January 11, 2018

More than 10,000 people in the United States are living with memory loss and other persistent neurological problems that occur after West Nile virus infects the brain.

Now, a new study in mice suggests that such ongoing neurological deficits may be due to unresolved inflammation that hinders the brain’s ability to repair damaged neurons and grow new ones. When the inflammation was reduced by treatment with an arthritis drug, the animals’ ability to learn and remember remained sharp after West Nile disease.

“These memory disturbances make it hard for people to hold down a job, to drive, to take care of all the duties of everyday life,” said senior author Robyn Klein, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “We found that targeting the inflammation with the arthritis drug could prevent some of these problems with memory.”

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