The impact of Zika virus infection on human neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) cell line

J Vector Borne Dis. 2017 Jul-Sep;54(3):207-214. doi: 10.4103/0972-9062.217611.


Background & objectives: An increase in Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic during the last decade has become a major global concern as the virus affects both newborns and adult humans. Earlier studies have shown the impact of ZIKV infection in developing human foetus. However, effective in vitro model of target cells for studying the ZIKV infection in adult human neurons is not available. This study aimed to establish the use of human neuroblastoma cell line (SH-SY5Y) for studying an infection of ZIKV in vitro.

Methods: ZIKV growth kinetics, viral toxicity, and SH-SY5Y cell vialibity were determined after ZIKV infection in SH-SY5Y cells in vitro. ZIKV-infected SH-SY5Y cells were morphologically analysed and compared with nonhuman primate Vero cells. Furthermore, the susceptibility of SH-SY5Y cells to ZIKV infection was also determined.

Results: The results showed that ZIKV efficiently infects SH-SY5Y cell lines in vitro. Gradual changes of several cellular homeostasis parameters including cell viability, cytotoxicity, and cell morphology were observed in ZIKVinfected SH-SY5Y cells when compared to mock-treated or non-human primate cells. Interestingly, ZIKV particles were detected in the nucleoplasmic compartment of the infected SH-SY5Y cells.

Interpretation & conclusion: The results suggest that ZIKV particle can be detected in the nucleoplasmic compartment of the infected SH-SY5Y cells beside the known viral replicating cytoplasmic area. Hence, SH-SY5Y cells can be used as an in vitro adult human neuronal cell-based model, for further elucidating the ZIKV biology, and highlight other possible significance of Zika virus distribution through nuclear localization, which may correlate to the neuropathological defects in ZIKV-infected adult humans.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Nucleus / virology
  • Cell Survival
  • Cytoplasm / virology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / virology*
  • Zika Virus / growth & development*
  • Zika Virus Infection / physiopathology
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology