Wednesday, 09 March 2016 15:22

Zika virus (ZIKV) infects human embryonic cortical neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) Featured

A group of american scientists from Florida State University, from Johns Hopkins University and from Emory University School of medicine were able to observe that the Zika virus directly infects human cortical neural progenitor cells with high efficiency.

The combat against the zika virus will be one of the big challenges today. There are reasons to suppose that can cause microcephaly in unborns during pregnancy. Today, the direct target cells of ZIKV in the developing human fetus are not clear. Here the scientists were able to achive important results with the view of a mechanistic link between ZIKV and microcephaly.

For there investigations the scientists used a Zika strain (MR766) and a cell culture model with forebrain-specific human neural progenitor cells deriving from induced pluripotent stem cells. Cells were inoculated with medium containing virus. The inoculum was removed after a 2 hr incubation
period. Infection rates were then quantified 56 hr later using RT-PCR and immunecytochemically with a virus-specific antibody.

They could observed that the human neural progenitor cells were infected readily. An infection lead to cell death or to a cell cycle arrest and gene dysregulation. Within 3 days, 65-90 percent of the cells were infected. However, already differentiated neurons from the progenitor cells showed infections in a lesser extend.

The researchers postulate that human neural progenitor cells, a constitutive population of the developing embryonic brain, are a direct cell target of the Zika virus.

Source and more to read:
Hengli Tang, Christy Hammack, Sarah C. Ogden, et al. (2016):  Zika Virus Infects Human Cortical Neural Progenitors and Attenuates Their Growth.
Cell Stem Cell 18, 1–4.