Hepatic damage caused by flaviviruses: A systematic review

Life Sci. 2023 Oct 15:331:122074. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2023.122074. Epub 2023 Sep 6.


Flaviviruses infect arthropods and mammals and their pathologies are a considerable global health problem, affecting about 400 million people per year. The symptoms of these flaviviruses range from mild manifestations such as nausea, vomiting, and headache to more serious cases such as hemorrhage, meningitis, microcephaly, kidney, and liver failure. This review aims to compile the morphological changes that occur due to infections caused by dengue, yellow fever, and Zika viruses, as well as to describe possible mechanisms of action of such flaviviruses in the liver. PRISMA guidelines were used to search for studies associating flavivirus with liver disorders. Two independent reviewers selected the studies on PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, and Scopus search platforms. The SYRCLE software was used for the evaluation of the study's quality. Eighteen experimental articles were included. The experimental animals often used in experiments were monkeys (5 %), hamsters (10 %), chicken embryos (10 %), and mice (75 %). It is evident that there is a strong hepatic interaction with flaviviruses, and the main hepatic alterations found were steatosis, apoptosis, necrosis, hemorrhage, elevation of ALT and AST levels, and total bilirubin. Flavivirus infection, in general, trigger an upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, leading to structural changes in mitochondria that activate cascades of cellular death and promote insulin resistance. The majority of the studies primarily focus on dengue and yellow fever viruses, while the findings related to Zika virus exposure are still relatively limited and require further investigation.

Keywords: Arbovirus; Flavivirus; Hepatocyte; Liver disease; Liver necrosis; Liver pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Cricetinae
  • Dengue*
  • Flavivirus*
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases*
  • Mammals
  • Mice
  • Yellow Fever*
  • Zika Virus Infection*
  • Zika Virus*