Infectious disease-associated encephalopathies

Maria C. Barbosa-Silva, Maiara N. Lima, Denise Battaglini, Chiara Robba, Paolo Pelosi, Patricia R.M. Rocco, Tatiana Maron-Gutierrez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Infectious diseases may affect brain function and cause encephalopathy even when the pathogen does not directly infect the central nervous system, known as infectious disease-associated encephalopathy. The systemic inflammatory process may result in neuroinflammation, with glial cell activation and increased levels of cytokines, reduced neurotrophic factors, blood–brain barrier dysfunction, neurotransmitter metabolism imbalances, and neurotoxicity, and behavioral and cognitive impairments often occur in the late course. Even though infectious disease-associated encephalopathies may cause devastating neurologic and cognitive deficits, the concept of infectious disease-associated encephalopathies is still under-investigated; knowledge of the underlying mechanisms, which may be distinct from those of encephalopathies of non-infectious cause, is still limited. In this review, we focus on the pathophysiology of encephalopathies associated with peripheral (sepsis, malaria, influenza, and COVID-19), emerging therapeutic strategies, and the role of neuroinflammation. Graphic abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number236
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Cognition
  • COVID-19
  • Encephalopathy
  • Infection
  • Influenza
  • Malaria
  • Microglial priming
  • Neuroinflammation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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