Zika Virus Infects Intermediate Progenitor Cells and Post-mitotic Committed Neurons in Human Fetal Brain Tissues

Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 1;7(1):14883. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-13980-2.


Zika virus (ZIKV) infection is associated with microcephaly in fetuses, but the pathogenesis of ZIKV-related microcephaly is not well understood. Here we show that ZIKV infects the subventricular zone in human fetal brain tissues and that the tissue tropism broadens with the progression of gestation. Our research demonstrates also that intermediate progenitor cells (IPCs) are the main target cells for ZIKV. Post-mitotic committed neurons become susceptible to ZIKV infection as well at later stages of gestation. Furthermore, activation of microglial cells, DNA fragmentation, and apoptosis of infected or uninfected cells could be found in ZIKV-infected brain tissues. Our studies identify IPCs as the main target cells for ZIKV. They also suggest that immune activation after ZIKV infection may play an important role in the pathogenesis of ZIKV-related microcephaly.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / virology*
  • Female
  • Fetus / pathology
  • Fetus / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Microcephaly / etiology
  • Mitosis
  • Neurons / virology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Stem Cells / virology*
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Zika Virus Infection / immunology
  • Zika Virus Infection / pathology*
  • Zika Virus*