Monday, 07 March 2022 11:41

Maine: Using human astrocytes to treat progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy Featured

Scientists at the University of Maine, USA, and colleagues have examined the John Cunningham (JC) virus infection using human primary astrocytes. They found an important signaling pathway, that could provide a clue for potential therapy.

The JC virus, also called human polyomavirus 2, is estimated to lie dormant in 70 to 90 percent of people worldwide but is generally kept in check via an intact immune system.. However, in the case of a severe disease or immune deficiency, it can migrate via the blood into the central nervous system. There is then a risk of a rare brain infection, which often leads to death within a few weeks.

In the fatal disease known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), astrocytes are a major target of JC polyomavirus in the central nervous system, where destruction of these cells occurs along with oligodendrocytes.

To find antivirals for this aggressive disease, the researchers used human primary astrocytes and infected them with the virus. They observed that the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signal transduction pathway plays a significant role in infection. Thus, they suggest that drugs that inhibit the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway could be considered as potential therapeutics for PML.

Original paper:
Wilczek MP, Armstrong FJ, Mayberry CL, King BL, Maginnis MS. PI3K/AKT/mTOR Signaling Pathway Is Required for JCPyV Infection in Primary Astrocytes. Cells. 2021 Nov 18;10(11):3218. doi: 10.3390/cells10113218. PMID: 34831441; PMCID: PMC8624856.