Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

How Rotavirus Wreaks Havoc on the Gut

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

How Rotavirus Wreaks Havoc on the Gut

Article excerpt

Rotavirus causes some 600 000 deaths a year and about 125 million cases of illness. Most of these deaths are in low-income countries. Death results not from infection per se but from dehydration caused by profuse diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting unless oral rehydration therapy can be given. There are no drug treatments for rotavirus and currently no licensed vaccine following the withdrawal of the first of its kind last year. Now researchers in Sweden have discovered how the virus triggers fluid loss from the intestines, and in so doing have identified new targets for drug development.(d)

Ove Lundgren at Goteborg University, and others at the University Hospital, Uppsala and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control in Solna, studied rotavirus in mice. They found that the virus activates the enteric nervous system, triggering nerves that control both the movements of the intestines and the extent to which they absorb fluid. Cells in the lining of the intestine are stimulated by these nerves to secrete more water, possibly as a defence against toxic products of the virus. …

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