Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic has left thousands of children in devastating conditions that has had a huge impact on their entire life. Understanding the pathology and management of the condition remains a priority for researchers.

Professor Zoltán Molnár and a team of international researchers, including Patricia Garcez from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Helen Stolp from King's College London, have published a paper, entitled "Zika virus impairs the development of blood vessels in a mouse model of congenital infection", which studies the development abnormalities associated to ZIKV. 

In the paper, which has been published in Scientific Reports, the team demonstrated a novel mechanism as to how the ZIKV infection impacts on blood vessels development. The study demonstrated the previously described reduction of the cortical progenitors and cortical neurons as a result of ZIKV infection, but it revealed that the ZIKV infected brains displayed a reduction in brain vasculature density and vessel branching. 

These impaired vascular patterns were not only apparent in the brain, but also in the placenta and retina. Moreover, proteomic analysis has shown that angiogenesis proteins are deregulated in the infected brains compared to controls.

These new results indicate that ZIKV impairs angiogenesis in addition to neurogenesis during development. The study suggests that ZIKV is responsible for additional angiogenic defects that could contribute to the reduced neurogenesis in the ventricular zone and the later reduced cortical volume. The widespread vasculature defects contribute to the congenital ZIKA syndrome to affect not only the general brain growth but also the general development of the unborn child.

The study emphasises these novel disease mechanisms that have to be considered in management and in direct therapeutic targeting.

Similar stories

New target identified for repairing the heart after heart attack

DPAG

An immune cell is shown for the first time to be involved in creating the scar that repairs the heart after damage. The Riley Group study was funded by the British Heart Foundation and led by BHF CRE Intermediate Transition Research Fellow Dr Filipa Simões.

Malnutrition linked with increased risk of Zika birth defects

DPAG

The severity of Zika virus-related deformations in babies has been shown to be affected by environmental factors such as maternal nutrition. The study was partially funded by a joint MRC Grant between DPAG's Professor Zoltán Molnár and Associate Professor Patricia Garcez of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Leptin is the missing piece in the immunometabolism puzzle

DPAG

Associate Professor Ana Domingos reviews the identification of the hormone leptin and explores its significance in the function of immune cells in obesity.