Preventive and therapeutic challenges in combating Zika virus infection: are we getting any closer?

Research paper by Meera V MV Singh, Emily A EA Weber, Vir B VB Singh, Nicole E NE Stirpe, Sanjay B SB Maggirwar

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Journal of NeuroVirology


The neuroteratogenic nature of Zika Virus (ZIKV) infection has converted what would have been a tropical disease into a global threat. Zika is transmitted vertically via infected placental cells especially in the first and second trimesters. In the developing central nervous system (CNS), ZIKV can infect and induce apoptosis of neural progenitor cells subsequently causing microcephaly as well as other neuronal complications in infants. Its ability to infect multiple cell types (placental, dermal, and neural) and increased environmental stability as compared to other flaviviruses (FVs) has broadened the transmission routes for ZIKV infection from vector-mediated to transmitted via body fluids. To further complicate the matters, it is genetically similar (about 40%) with the four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV), so much so that it can almost be called a fifth DENV serotype. This homology poses the risk of causing cross-reactive immune responses and subsequent antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of infection in case of secondary infections or for immunized individuals. All of these factors complicate the development of a single preventive vaccine candidate or a pharmacological intervention that will completely eliminate or cure ZIKV infection. We discuss all of these factors in detail in this review and conclude that a combinatorial approach including immunization and treatment might prove to be the winning strategy.