Acute and chronic neurological consequences of early-life Zika virus infection in mice

Sci Transl Med. 2018 Jun 6;10(444):eaar2749. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aar2749.


Although congenital Zika virus (ZIKV) exposure has been associated with microcephaly and other neurodevelopmental disorders, long-term consequences of perinatal infection are largely unknown. We evaluated short- and long-term neuropathological and behavioral consequences of neonatal ZIKV infection in mice. ZIKV showed brain tropism, causing postnatal-onset microcephaly and several behavioral deficits in adulthood. During the acute phase of infection, mice developed frequent seizures, which were reduced by tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) inhibition. During adulthood, ZIKV replication persisted in neonatally infected mice, and the animals showed increased susceptibility to chemically induced seizures, neurodegeneration, and brain calcifications. Altogether, the results show that neonatal ZIKV infection has long-term neuropathological and behavioral complications in mice and suggest that early inhibition of TNF-α-mediated neuroinflammation might be an effective therapeutic strategy to prevent the development of chronic neurological abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain / virology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognition
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Seizures / pathology
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Seizures / virology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Virus Replication
  • Weight Loss
  • Zika Virus / physiology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / pathology
  • Zika Virus Infection / physiopathology
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha