Intrauterine viral infections during pregnancy by pathogens such as Zika virus, Cytomegalovirus, Rubella and Herpes Simplex virus can lead to prenatal as well as postnatal neurodevelopmental disorders. Although maternal viral infections are common during pregnancy, viruses rarely penetrate the trophoblast. When they do cross, viruses can cause adverse congenital health conditions for the fetus. In this context, maternal inflammatory responses to these neurotropic pathogens play a significant role in negatively affecting neurodevelopment. For instance, intrauterine inflammation poses an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as microcephaly, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Severe inflammatory responses have been linked to stillbirths, preterm births, abortions and microcephaly. In this review, we discuss the mechanistic basis of how immune system shapes the landscape of the brain and how different neurotropic viral pathogens evoke inflammatory responses. Finally, we list the consequences of neuroinflammation on fetal brain development and discuss directions for future research and intervention strategies.Copyright © 2021 Ganguli and Chavali.
About The Expert
Pavithra L Chavali