Wednesday November 13, 2019

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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Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus
Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus. (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.

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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)

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Even Short-term ‘Vaping’ can Cause Inflammation, Says Study

With the recent reports of lung disease and deaths associated with vaping, the effects of vaping nicotine and marijuana oils makes this research more critical, said the researchers

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US, CDC, Vaping
FILE - A high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass., April 11, 2018. VOA

E-cigarette use has risen at concerning levels among both smokers and non-smokers and now researchers from the Ohio State University have found that even short-term vaping could cause cellular inflammation in never-smoker adults.

Using a procedure called bronchoscopy to test for inflammation and smoking-related effects, researchers reported a measurable increase in inflammation after four weeks of e-cigarette use without nicotine or flavours.

The study suggested that even short-term usage could result in inflammatory changes at a cellular level.

“Through the randomised clinical trial of healthy never-smokers over a month, we found that an increase in urinary propylene glycol, a marker of inhalation-e-cig intake, was significantly correlated with increased inflammatory response in the lung,” said the study’s first author Min-Ae Song from Ohio State University.

For the study, researchers recruited 30 healthy, non-smoking volunteers to directly assess the impact of tobacco and e-cig use on the lungs through bronchoscopy, an outpatient test in which a doctor inserts a thin tube through the nose or mouth to view the airways.

Vaping, teeth,e-cigarette, cigarettes
Nicotine vaping on rise among US teenagers: Survey. Pixabay

A small sample of lung cells was collected from fluid in the lungs.

Participants were randomised to a four-week intervention with e-cigs containing only 50 per cent propylene glycol (PG) or 50 per cent vegetable glycerine (VG) without nicotine or flavours.

Results from these tests were then compared to a separate control group of never-smokers.

Also Read: Heavier Babies are More Prone to Childhood Allergies: Research

Researchers did not see levels of inflammation higher than the controls, but there was an increase in inflammation among the users who inhaled more of the e-cigarette.

With the recent reports of lung disease and deaths associated with vaping, the effects of vaping nicotine and marijuana oils makes this research more critical, said the researchers. (IANS)