The single-stranded RNA virus enterovirus 71 (EV71), which belongs to the Picornaviridae family, has caused epidemics worldwide, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Most EV71 infections result in mild clinical symptoms, including herpangina and hand, foot and mouth disease. However, serious pathological complications have also been reported, especially for young children. The mechanisms of EV71 disease progression remain unclear. The pathogenesis of adverse clinical outcomes may relate to many factors, including cell tropism, cell death and host immune responses. This article reviews the recent advances in the identification of factors determining EV71 cell tropism, the associated mechanisms of viral infection-induced cell death and the interplay between EV71 and immunity.
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