Pathogenesis of Lassa fever

Viruses. 2012 Oct 9;4(10):2031-48. doi: 10.3390/v4102031.


Lassa virus, an Old World arenavirus (family Arenaviridae), is the etiological agent of Lassa fever, a severe human disease that is reported in more than 100,000 patients annually in the endemic regions of West Africa with mortality rates for hospitalized patients varying between 5-10%. Currently, there are no approved vaccines against Lassa fever for use in humans. Here, we review the published literature on the life cycle of Lassa virus with the specific focus put on Lassa fever pathogenesis in humans and relevant animal models. Advancing knowledge significantly improves our understanding of Lassa virus biology, as well as of the mechanisms that allow the virus to evade the host's immune system. However, further investigations are required in order to design improved diagnostic tools, an effective vaccine, and therapeutic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Genome, Viral
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Lassa Fever / immunology
  • Lassa Fever / pathology*
  • Lassa Fever / virology
  • Lassa virus / genetics
  • Lassa virus / immunology
  • Lassa virus / pathogenicity*
  • Lassa virus / physiology*
  • Liver / immunology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / virology
  • Necrosis / immunology
  • Necrosis / virology
  • Viral Load
  • Viremia / virology
  • Virus Replication*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral