CNS infections continue to rise in incidence in conjunction with increases in immunocompromised populations or conditions that contribute to the emergence of pathogens, such as global travel, climate change, and human encroachment on animal territories. The severity and complexity of these diseases is impacted by the diversity of etiologic agents and their routes of neuroinvasion. In this review, we present historical, clinical, and molecular concepts regarding the mechanisms of pathogen invasion of the CNS. We also discuss the structural components of CNS compartments that influence pathogen entry and recent discoveries of the pathways exploited by pathogens to facilitate CNS infections. Advances in our understanding of the CNS invasion mechanisms of different neurotropic pathogens may enable the development of strategies to control their entry and deliver drugs to mitigate established infections. Cain et al. provide a comprehensive overview of our current knowledge of the mechanisms by which neurotropic pathogens gain access into the CNS, including those that may be exploited for drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-783
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 4 2019


  • CNS
  • axonal transport
  • blood-brain barrier
  • neuroinfectious diseases
  • neuroinvasion
  • pathogen


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