Zika virus as a causative agent for primary microencephaly: the evidence so far

Arch Microbiol. 2016 Sep;198(7):595-601. doi: 10.1007/s00203-016-1268-7. Epub 2016 Jul 13.


Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has been associated with congenital microcephaly and peripheral neuropathy. The ongoing epidemic has triggered swift responses in the scientific community, and a number of recent reports have now confirmed a causal relationship between ZIKV infection and birth defect. In particular, ZIKV has been shown to be capable of compromising and crossing the placental barrier and infect the developing fetal brain, resulting in the demise and functional impairment of neuroprogenitor cells critical for fetal cortex development. Here, the evidence for ZIKV as a teratogenic agent that causes microcephaly is reviewed, and its association with other disorders is discussed.

Keywords: Microcephaly; Neuroprogenitor cells; Zika virus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / virology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Microcephaly / virology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / virology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / virology
  • Placenta / virology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Teratogens
  • Zika Virus / pathogenicity*
  • Zika Virus Infection / pathology*


  • Teratogens