Neuronal dysfunction and death in rabies virus infection
Because morphologic changes in natural rabies are usually relatively mild, it is thought that the severe clinical disease with a fatal outcome must be due to neuronal dysfunction of rabies virus-infected neurons. The precise bases of this functional impairment are unknown, and current knowledge on electrophysiological alterations, effects on ion channels and neurotransmission, and neurotoxicity are reviewed. Rabies virus may induce neuronal death, possibly through apoptotic mechanisms. Neuronal apoptosis has been observed in vitro and also in vivo under particular experimental conditions. The relevance of neuronal apoptosis in these situations to natural rabies has not yet been fully elucidated.
Keywordsapoptosis neurotransmission pathogenesis rabies rabies virus
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