Nipah virus (NiV) is a highly pathogenic paramyxovirus that was first isolated in 1999 during an outbreak in Malaysia. In contrast to other paramyxoviruses NiV infects many mammalian species. Because of its zoonotic potential, the high pathogenicity and the lack of therapeutic treatment, NiV was classified as a biosafety level 4 pathogen. In humans NiV causes a severe acute encephalitis whereas in some animal hosts respiratory symptoms are predominantly observed. Despite the differences in the clinical outcome, microvascular endothelial cell damage predominantly underlies the pathological changes in NiV infections in all susceptible host species. NiV generally induces a pronounced vasculitis which is primarily characterised by endothelial cell necrosis and inflammatory cell infiltration. For future developments of specific antiviral therapies or vaccines, a detailed understanding of the molecular basis of NiV pathogenesis is required. This article reviews the current knowledge about natural and experimental infections in different mammals, focusing on the main organ and cell tropism in vivo, and summarises some recent studies in cell culture on the role of ephrin-B2 and -B3 receptors in NiV infection of endothelial cells.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.