Infection via mosquito bite alters Zika virus tissue tropism and replication kinetics in rhesus macaques

Nat Commun. 2017 Dec 13;8(1):2096. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02222-8.


Mouse and nonhuman primate models now serve as useful platforms to study Zika virus (ZIKV) pathogenesis, candidate therapies, and vaccines, but they rely on needle inoculation of virus: the effects of mosquito-borne infection on disease outcome have not been explored in these models. Here we show that infection via mosquito bite delays ZIKV replication to peak viral loads in rhesus macaques. Importantly, in mosquito-infected animals ZIKV tissue distribution was limited to hemolymphatic tissues, female reproductive tract tissues, kidney, and liver, potentially emulating key features of human ZIKV infections, most of which are characterized by mild or asymptomatic disease. Furthermore, deep sequencing analysis reveals that ZIKV populations in mosquito-infected monkeys show greater sequence heterogeneity and lower overall diversity than in needle-inoculated animals. This newly developed system will be valuable for studying ZIKV disease because it more closely mimics human infection by mosquito bite than needle-based inoculations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / virology*
  • Animals
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mosquito Vectors / virology
  • Primate Diseases / virology
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Load
  • Viral Tropism / physiology*
  • Virus Replication*
  • Zika Virus / physiology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology*