Study identifies how Zika virus infects the placenta

August 18, 2016
Transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus. Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In a new study, Yale researchers demonstrate Zika virus infection of cells derived from human placentas. The research provides insight into how Zika virus may be transmitted from expectant mother to fetus, resulting in infection of the fetal brain.

The study was published online Aug. 18 in JCI Insight.

Researchers have linked Zika to microcephaly—a birth defect affecting the heads and brains of infants born to infected mothers. Yet little is understood about how the virus crosses the maternal-fetal barrier, a layer of cells that serves as a filter to protect the fetus from harmful substances.

A team of researchers, led by senior author Erol Fikrig, M.D., studied the question by using three different strains of Zika virus to infect three types of cells found in placental tissue. The cells types—known as Hofbauer cells, cytotrophoblasts, and fibroblasts—were obtained from normal term pregnancies.

The researchers found that fibroblasts and Hofbauer cells were susceptible to infection by Zika virus in isolated cultures. They also observed infection of Hofbauer cells within whole placental tissue.

"These placenta-specific cells could potentially serve as a reservoir for Zika virus production within the fetal compartment," said first author Kellie Ann Jurado, a postdoctoral fellow.

The researchers also stated that the Hofbauer , which are believed to migrate around the placenta, may aid in delivery of Zika virus to the .

The findings further the understanding of Zika virus infection and potential routes of viral production and circulation within the placenta, said Jurado. The study results may also help investigators develop new strategies to potentially prevent infection of the fetus, the noted.

Explore further: How Zika infects the placenta

More information: Kellie Ann Jurado et al. Zika virus productively infects primary human placenta-specific macrophages, JCI Insight (2016). DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.88461

Related Stories

How Zika infects the placenta

May 27, 2016
Zika virus can infect and replicate in immune cells from the placenta, without killing them, scientists have discovered. The finding may explain how the virus can pass through the placenta of a pregnant woman, on its way ...

Researchers map Zika's routes to the developing fetus

July 18, 2016
Zika virus can infect numerous cell types in the human placenta and amniotic sac, according to researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley who show in a new paper how the virus travels from a pregnant woman to her fetus. ...

Canada reports first Zika-linked birth defect

August 12, 2016
Canada Friday confirmed its first case of a birth defect related to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Miscarriage linked to maternal Zika infection

July 28, 2016
(HealthDay)—Dutch researchers are reporting a case of miscarriage tied to maternal infection with the Zika virus. The report was published online July 27 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Zika virus: Five things to know

February 8, 2016
A concise "Five things to know about.... Zika virus infection" article for physicians highlights key points about this newly emerged virus in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Recommended for you

Novel therapies for multidrug-resistant bacteria

October 23, 2017
During this innovative study published in PLOS One, researchers found that novel classes of compounds, such as metal-complexes, can be used as alternatives to or to supplement traditional antibiotics, which have become ineffective ...

Pneumonia vaccine under development provides 'most comprehensive coverage' to date, alleviates antimicrobial concerns

October 20, 2017
In 2004, pneumonia killed more than 2 million children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. By 2015, the number was less than 1 million.

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

Migraines may be the brain's way of dealing with oxidative stress

October 19, 2017
A new perspective article highlights a compelling theory about migraine attacks: that they are an integrated mechanism by which the brain protects and repairs itself. Recent insightful findings and potential ways to use them ...

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer

October 19, 2017
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.