Differently from other Flavivirus, Zika is able to cross the human placenta barrier impairing fetal neuronal development. It has been demonstrated that placental cells are highly susceptible to Zika infection in the early stages of pregnancy, while during the last gestational period, the placenta secretes antiviral factors, as lambda interferon, which make this tissue resistant to the infection. Nevertheless, Zika vertical transmission was also reported in women infected during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. In this scenario, ZIKA-PATHO aimed to understand which pathogenic mechanism Zika exploits to cross the placenta barrier during the last gestational period and how it could be limited or prevented. Initially, placental explants, obtained from full-term caesarean deliveries, were infected with three different Zika viruses to characterize strain-dependent pathogenicity. Then, immortalized placenta cell lines were used to determine Zika replicative features in the main placental cell types. Finally, to define which host or viral factors were responsible for better or worse Zika infectivity into the placental cells, genetic, proteic and lipid analyses were performed on both Zika strains and infected placental cell lines.
Who was involved
This was a collaboration between Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Penta and SERGAS.
Results are still confidential since the manuscript is currently under submission.