ZIKA virus reveals broad tissue and cell tropism during the first trimester of pregnancy

Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 19:6:35296. doi: 10.1038/srep35296.


The outbreak of the Zika Virus (ZIKV) and its association with fetal abnormalities have raised worldwide concern. However, the cellular tropism and the mechanisms of ZIKV transmission to the fetus during early pregnancy are still largely unknown. Therefore, we ex vivo modeled the ZIKV transmission at the maternal-fetal interface using organ culture from first trimester pregnancy samples. Here, we provide evidence that ZIKV strain circulating in Brazil infects and damages tissue architecture of the maternal decidua basalis, the fetal placenta and umbilical cord. We also show that ZIKV replicates differentially in a wide range of maternal and fetal cells, including decidual fibroblasts and macrophages, trophoblasts, Hofbauer cells as well as umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells. The striking cellular tropism of ZIKV and its cytopathic-induced tissue injury during the first trimester of pregnancy could provide an explanation for the irreversible congenital damages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brazil
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Relations
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Placenta / virology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / genetics
  • Viral Tropism / genetics*
  • Zika Virus / genetics*
  • Zika Virus / pathogenicity
  • Zika Virus Infection / transmission*
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology