Hepatitis E virus and neurological injury

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Abstract

Hepatitis E is hyperendemic in many developing countries in Asia and Africa, and is caused by hepatitis E virus (HEV) genotypes 1 and 2, which are spread via the faecal-oral route by contaminated water. Recent data show that HEV infection is also endemic in developed countries. In such geographical settings, hepatitis E is caused by HEV genotypes 3 and 4, and is mainly a porcine zoonosis. In a minority of cases, HEV causes acute and chronic hepatitis, but infection is commonly asymptomatic or unrecognized. HEV infection is associated with a number of extrahepatic manifestations, including a range of neurological injuries. To date, 91 cases of HEV-associated neurological injury—most commonly, Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuralgic amyotrophy, and encephalitis/myelitis — have been reported. Here, we review the reported cases, discuss possible pathogenic mechanisms, and present our perspectives on future directions and research questions.

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