Research provides clues to how Zika virus breaches the placental barrier

September 15, 2016
Transmission electron microscope image of negative-stained, Fortaleza-strain Zika virus (red), isolated from a microcephaly case in Brazil. The virus is associated with cellular membranes in the center. Credit: NIAID

New research reveals that in pregnant women, Zika virus infection damages certain cells that affect placental formation and function. Furthermore, herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) infection augments placental sensitivity to Zika virus by enhancing the expression of receptors that allow Zika virus to enter cells.

The findings may help explain the mechanism by which Zika virus breaches the placental barrier to access the fetus. They also suggest that fetuses in with HSV-2 infection are at a higher risk for microcephaly and other effects caused by Zika virus.

"Investigators in Brazil have suspected that something more than Zika virus is causing the high intensity and severity of cases. Our study suggests that the immune response to an early infection, HSV-2, may be the additional factor that increases the risk for severity of Zika -induced disease," said Dr. Gil Mor, senior author of the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology study.

Explore further: Study identifies how Zika virus infects the placenta

More information: Paulomi Aldo et al. HSV-2 enhances ZIKV infection of the placenta and induces apoptosis in first-trimester trophoblast cells, American Journal of Reproductive Immunology (2016). DOI: 10.1111/aji.12578

Related Stories

Study identifies how Zika virus infects the placenta

August 18, 2016

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 ...

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

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)

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

Recommended for you

Most dengue infections transmitted in and around home

March 23, 2017

Transmission of the mosquito-borne dengue virus appears to be largely driven by infections centered in and around the home, with the majority of cases related to one another occurring in people who live less than 200 meters ...

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.