AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 3, 2017

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Zika May Cause Miscarriages, Thin Brain Tissue in Babies Carried to Term

Using unique mouse model, researchers believe they can develop treatment of vaccine targets in order to fight virus

Johns Hopkins researchers say that in early pregnancy in mice with complete immune systems, Zika virus can cross the placenta – intended to protect the developing fetus – and appears to lead to a high percentage of miscarriages and to babies born with thin brain tissue and inflammation in brain cells. By administering Zika virus directly into the reproductive tract of pregnant mice that have an intact immune system, the researchers found that the Zika virus appears to create disorganization in the cellular layers of the placenta that keep toxins, bacteria and viruses from crossing. This disorganization could be how the virus penetrates the placenta to infect the fetus. The researchers also discovered a mechanism by which Zika may be keeping antiviral proteins in the body from doing their job of protecting cells from the virus.

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