Overview on the Current Status of Zika Virus Pathogenesis and Animal Related Research

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2017 Sep;12(3):371-388. doi: 10.1007/s11481-017-9743-8. Epub 2017 Apr 25.


There is growing evidence that Zika virus (ZIKV) infection is linked with activation of Guillan-Barré syndrome (GBS) in adults infected with the virus and microcephaly in infants following maternal infection. With the recent outpour in publications by numerous research labs, the association between microcephaly in newborns and ZIKV has become very apparent in which large numbers of viral particles were found in the central nervous tissue of an electively aborted microcephalic ZIKV-infected fetus. However, the underlying related mechanisms remain poorly understood. Thus, development of ZIKV-infected animal models are urgently required. The need to develop drugs and vaccines of high efficacy along with efficient diagnostic tools for ZIKV treatment and management raised the demand for a very selective animal model for exploring ZIKV pathogenesis and related mechanisms. In this review, we describe recent advances in animal models developed for studying ZIKV pathogenesis and evaluating potential interventions against human infection, including during pregnancy. The current research directions and the scientific challenges ahead in developing effective vaccines and therapeutics are also discussed.

Keywords: Autophagy; Neurological disorders; Vaccine; ZIKV animal models; ZIKV diagnosis; ZIKV pathology; Zika virus (ZIKV).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microcephaly / virology
  • Pregnancy
  • Zika Virus Infection*