Zika May Cause Damage in Adult Brains Too

From Technology Networks
September 6, 2019

Zika virus attracted worldwide attention in recent years due to the devastating consequences of infection for pregnant women and their fetuses, many of which were born with microcephaly and other severe neurological malformations. Although ZIKV infection has historically been associated to relatively mild symptoms, a number of serious neurological complications were described in adult patients during the 2015 outbreak in America. Despite these clinical observations, how ZIKV is toxic to the adult brain and how neurological problems are caused in infected adults have remained unknown.

Researchers led by neuroscientists Sergio T. Ferreira e Claudia Figueiredo and virologist Andrea Da Poian at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) have now come up with answers to these questions. First, they exposed small fragments of adult human brain tissue to ZIKV isolated from the blood of an infected Brazilian patient. Contrary to the previous belief that ZIKV only infects neuronal progenitor cells or neurons that are still immature in the developing brain, they found that the virus infected and replicated in adult human tissue, producing new viral particles capable of infecting more cells.

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