Send to

Choose Destination
Emerg Microbes Infect. 2019;8(1):1098-1107. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2019.1644967.

The African strain of Zika virus causes more severe in utero infection than Asian strain in a porcine fetal transmission model.

Author information

a Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), University of Saskatchewan , Saskatoon , Canada.
b School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan , Saskatoon , Canada.
c Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan , Saskatoon , Canada.


Studies in mice showed that African Zika virus (ZIKV) strains cause more damage in embryos. These studies, however, were limited to the mouse-adapted African MR766 strain or infection at early gestation. Here, we compared infection of Asian and African strains in the fetal pig model at midgestation. Both strains caused fetal infection. ZIKV was detected in placenta, amniotic membrane, amniotic fluid, fetal blood, and brain. The African strain produced more vigorous in utero infection as represented by more efficient virus transmission between siblings, and higher viral loads in fetal organs and membranes. Infection with both strains was associated with reduced fetal brain weight and increased number of placental CD163-positive cells, as well as elevated in utero interferon alpha and cortisol levels. This is the first large animal model study which demonstrated that African strain of ZIKV, with no passage history in experimental animals, can cause persistent infection in fetuses and fetal membranes at midgestation. Our studies also suggest that similar to Asian strains, ZIKV of African lineage might cause silent pathology which is difficult to identify in deceptively healthy fetuses. The findings emphasize the need for further studies to highlight the impact of ZIKV heterogeneity on infection outcomes during pregnancy.


infection; African strain; Asian strain; Zika virus; cortisol; fetus; interferon alpha; pig

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center