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Cell Discov. 2018 Jul 31;4:43. doi: 10.1038/s41421-018-0042-1. eCollection 2018.

Disruption of glial cell development by Zika virus contributes to severe microcephalic newborn mice.

Li C#1,2, Wang Q#1,2, Jiang Y#1,2, Ye Q#3, Xu D4, Gao F5, Xu JW6, Wang R5, Zhu X1,2, Shi L1, Yu L7, Zhang F7, Guo W1, Zhang L6, Qin CF3, Xu Z1,2,8.

Author information

1State Key Laboratory of Molecular Developmental Biology, CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100071 China.
2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101 China.
3Department of Virology, State Key Laboratory of Pathogen and Biosecurity, Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, Beijing, 100071 China.
4Institute of Life Sciences, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou, 350116 China.
5Comprehensive AIDS Research Center, Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis & Treatment of Infectious Diseases, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084 China.
6Department of Bioengineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA.
7Guangzhou Eighth People's Hospital, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, 510060 China.
8Parkinson's Disease Center, Beijing Institute for Brain Disorders, Beijing, 100101 China.
Contributed equally


The causal link between Zika virus (ZIKV) infection and microcephaly has raised alarm worldwide. Microglial hyperplasia, reactive gliosis, and myelination delay have been reported in ZIKV-infected microcephalic fetuses. However, whether and how ZIKV infection affects glial cell development remain unclear. Here we show that ZIKV infection of embryos at the later stage of development causes severe microcephaly after birth. ZIKV infects the glial progenitors during brain development. Specifically, ZIKV infection disturbs the proliferation and differentiation of the oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and leads to the abolishment of oligodendrocyte development. More importantly, a single intraperitoneal injection of pregnant mice with a human monoclonal neutralizing antibody provides full protection against ZIKV infection and its associated damages in the developing fetuses. Our results not only provide more insights into the pathogenesis of ZIKV infection, but also present a new model for the preclinical test of prophylactic and therapeutic agents against ZIKV infection.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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