Zika Cause Human Placental Damage and Inflammation
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Zika virus (ZIKV) infections were declared in 2015 that coincided with alarming reports of microcephaly in newborns associated with maternal infection. Although the virus has placental tropism, changes in the tissue morphology and immunity of infected patients have not yet been elucidated. Here, researchers investigated the histopathological and ultrastructural changes along with the immunological profile and the BDNF expression in rare placental material. Tissues were obtained in the 2015–2016 Brazilian epidemic, of ten ZIKV-infected patients during pregnancy, five resulting in cases of fetal microcephaly and five non-microcephaly, compared to five non-infected control placenta.

Viral antigens were only detected in samples from the ZIKV infected patients. Infected placentae presented histopathological severe damage, while the ultrastructural evaluation showed abnormal organelles, such as clusters of virus-like particles consistent with the ZIKV dimensions. Increased infiltration of CD68+ and TCD8+ cells, expression of MMPs, cytokines (IFN-? and TNF-?) and other immunological mediators (RANTES/CCL5 and VEGFR-2) confirmed excessive inflammation and vascular permeability dysfunction. An evaluation of BDNF showed a decrease that could modulate neuronal damage in the developing fetus. The placental changes caused by ZIKV are not pathognomonic, however, the data provide evidence that this infection leads to severe placental injury.

Studies that show that many placental cells are susceptible and permissive to ZIKV infection. In addition, there is a large involvement of immune cells and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the infected tissue, leading to changes in activation and recruitment of circulating cells as well as alterations in the extracellular matrix and vascular permeability. Statistically, the inflammatory response in the placenta did not have a straight impact on the presentation of microcephaly, subtle differences were evident and an expanded study may uncover relevant biomarkers. BDNF, which is important in the development of the brain, was found in the placenta, and could be a promising marker to predicting the impact of a maternal ZIKV infection on fetal brain alterations if considered together with others. As infected, pregnant women are the main target population for a possible vaccine against Zika, knowledge of the immune cells involved in placental inflammation, including the cytokines and mediators released by local cells, in the course of disease is crucial for its development. The discoveries from this study highlight this need and advance the current description placental change that contribute to congenital ZIKV pathogenesis.

Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.02146/full
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