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News: How Zika Virus Hides To Move from Mother to Baby

By piercen54 2016-06-02 04:50:35
Zika virus disease is a mosquito borne disease. It is due to Zika virus which spreads through the bite of an infected mosquito. This virus belong to the family of virus Flaviviridae and genus Flavivirus. The day time active Aedes species mosquitoes are responsible for the Zika virus infection.
The symptoms of Zika infection are fever, rash, pain in joint and redness in eyes. Infection is mostly mild with symptoms that lasts for few days to week. Therefore, many people do not realize they are infected by Zika virus. However, Zika virus infection that occurs during pregnancy causes serious birth defect called microcephaly.

Since Zika virus causes disease without showing any symptoms, it is infamous because of its link to microcephaly. It is a birth defect where infants are born with unusual small head.

Those women who are infected with Zika may transmit it to their child in the course of pregnancy. But how this process takes place during pregnancy was unknown. Now, scientists have discovered a potential route of infection to the fetus.

Virus from the falviviruses family is rare to transmit from one generation to the next. Researchers believe that mother and fetus are connected via placenta- a barrier between the two, it separates the circulatory system as well.

How is placenta barrier crossed by Zika virus?
First probability is that Zika virus slide through the openings formed by injury or inflammation. Second probability is that Zika virus can cross the placenta border by hiding in a host cell. This supposition was encouraged by pathology findings that indicates that Zika virus infects the cells of placenta.

Scientists from the Emory University School of Medicine verified this idea by using placentas that were donated by five healthy volunteers who had babies through Cesarean section. For carrying out this study, the cells of placenta were grown in the research laboratory. These placental cells were infected with virus obtained from Puerto Rico, which is closely related to Zika virus strain.

The scientists from this university found an increase in the activity of genes. Furthermore, these genes produce antiviral molecules which indicates infection in fetal ‘Hofbauer cells’ of the immune system. These cells are macrophages that engulf and digest foreign material that have straight access to the blood vessels of fetus. The attack does not kill most cells, which helps our defense system to use dead cells as a sign to identify the invaders and mount a reaction. The restricted cell death helps Zika virus to escape detection.

Additional experiments (to identify the receptor cell that allow Zika to enter) need to confirm the results. However, it appears that the virus can attack and replicate inside the immune cells. By capturing Hofbauer cells, the virus could cross the placental cells and infect tissues of brain in the developing fetus, therefore leading to microcephaly.

The immunologist and professor of pediatrics who directed the study states that certain donor cells are more disposed to Zika compare to others. Therefore, it means not all pregnant woman will transfer the virus.
Furthermore, the author indicated that non-viral factors and host genetics, comprising nutrition and microbiota, along with timing may be inducing infection. “A superior understanding of these aspects could allow the strategy of protective measures, and in due course antiviral therapies for Zika infection”.

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