Monday July 16, 2018

Zika Virus May Cause Miscarriages, Stillbirths Without any Symptoms

Zika virus is widely known for causing children to be born with a brain abnormality called microencephaly and other malformations

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Zika Virus May Cause Miscarriages, Stillbirths Without any Symptoms
Zika Virus May Cause Miscarriages, Stillbirths Without any Symptoms. (IANS)
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Pregnancy loss due to Zika infections that do not show any symptoms may be a common but unrecognised cause of miscarriages and stillbirths, raising concerns that the complications could be more common than currently thought, researchers say.

The findings showed that 26 per cent of non-human primates infected with Zika during early stages of pregnancy experienced miscarriage or stillbirth even though the animals showed few signs of infection.

“These rates of foetal losses and stillbirths in Zika-infected pregnant monkeys were about four-fold higher than what is normally seen in unexposed monkey populations at these research centers,” said Koen Van Rompay, scientist at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis).

“Many of the foetal and placental tissues had evidence of Zika virus replication and also had pathological lesions, which further supports the role of Zika virus in this detrimental outcome,” Rompay added.

Zika virus is widely known for causing children to be born with a brain abnormality called microencephaly and other malformations. Zika disease in human adults includes fever, rash, headache, joint and muscle pain, as well as red eyes; however, most are asymptomatic.

Zika
Representational image. Pixabay

“For pregnant women who live in areas where Zika virus is prevalent, and who may experience spontaneous abortions, the possible link to Zika virus infection may be missed,” said Lark Coffey, an arbovirologist at UC Davis.

“Our data in monkeys indicate more research is needed, so researchers can develop intervention strategies to protect pregnant women and their foetuses from Zika virus,” he noted in the paper published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Also Read: Study: Zika’s Effects on Newborns Persist Even in Adults

For the study, the data were aggregated from six National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs), where the team monitored pregnant rhesus macaques to follow the progress of Zika virus in the bodies and into their foetuses and the tissues that support foetal development.

The results showed that exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy was more likely to result in foetal death — a finding that parallels human reports.

Moreover, placental dysfunction, which is commonly presented in the form of increased placental calcification during ultrasound examinations may also affect the foetus development, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Study: Zika’s Effects on Newborns Persist Even in Adults

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation

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Study: Zika's Effects on Newborns Persist Even in Adults
Study: Zika's Effects on Newborns Persist Even in Adults. (IANS)

Scientists have discovered that Zika virus infection that can lead to birth defects and other complications such as seizures and long-term deficits in brain structure and behaviour, also persists in adulthood.

In the study, a team of neuroscientists from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, infected three-day-old infant mice with the Zika virus and monitored their behavioural and neurological development until adulthood to observe several early and late symptoms.

They found that most of the infected mice developed spontaneous seizures as soon as nine days after birth, and remained more susceptible to chemically-induced seizures in adulthood compared to controls.

This indicates that even though the spontaneous seizures may have been resolved as the animals grew older, the damage caused to the brain is permanent, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Furthermore, the infected mice demonstrated weight loss that is not recovered in adulthood, cognitive deficits and long-lasting impaired motor function.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The memory and sociability of adult mice were also affected, which may be linked to research that viral exposure shortly before or after birth may be associated to late development of autism and schizophrenia.

These behavioural deficits were also accompanied by persistent viral replication and inflammation in the brain.

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation.

One of these molecules is the Tumor Necrosis Factor Alfa, or simply TNF-a, a molecule closely linked to episodes of acute inflammation in the body.

Also Read: Report Says Majority Of Indians Mix Fats, Sugars In Their Diet

When administered, infliximab — a drug that inhibits TNF-a — prevented seizures in young infected mice by Day 12, suggesting that targeting cerebral inflammation could ameliorate some of the long-term consequences of neonatal Zika infection, the researchers said.

“Young mice responded very well to the TNF-a inhibitor. We found that some animals had a 50 per cent reduction in the number of seizures, on average. Also, adult animals were no longer susceptible to drug-induced seizures,” said Julia Clarke from the varsity. (IANS)