February 12, 2018
Researchers found genetic differences in twins discordant for congenital Zika syndrome that they said may increase susceptibility to complications of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
Their study, recently published in Nature Communications, also shows that infants with congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) have significantly higher rates of Zika virus (ZIKV) replication and reduced neural progenitor cell (NPC) growth compared with their twins not affected by CZS.
“Overall, our results indicate that CZS is not a stochastic event and depends on NPC intrinsic susceptibility, possibly related to oligogenic and/or epigenetic mechanisms,” Luiz Carlos Caires-Júnior, PhD, of the department of genetics and evolutionary biology at the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center, Biosciences Institute, University of São Paulo, Brazil, and colleagues wrote.
According to the researchers, 6% to 12% of pregnant women infected with ZIKV will give birth to infants with CZS, which is characterized by microcephaly and other abnormalities such as visual defects, hearing impairment, skeletal deformities and epilepsy. CZS, they noted, impairs early brain development by affecting NPCs.