Zika virus causes persistent infection in porcine conceptuses and may impair health in offspring

Joseph Darbellay, Brian Cox, Kenneth Lai, Mario Delgado-Ortega, Colette Wheler, Donald Wilson, Stewart Walker, Gregory Starrak, Duncan Hockley, Yanyun Huang, George Mutwiri, Andrew Potter, Matthew Gilmour, David Safronetz, Volker Gerdts, Uladzimir Karniychuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
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Outcomes of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in pregnant women vary from the birth of asymptomatic offspring to abnormal development and severe brain lesions in fetuses and infants. There are concerns that offspring affected in utero and born without apparent symptoms may develop mental illnesses. Therefore, animal models are important to test interventions against in utero infection and health sequelae in symptomatic and likely more widespread asymptomatic offspring. To partially reproduce in utero infection in humans, we directly inoculated selected porcine conceptuses with ZIKV. Inoculation resulted in rapid trans-fetal infections, persistent infection in conceptuses, molecular pathology in fetal brains, fetal antibody and type I interferon responses. Offspring infected in utero showed ZIKV in their fetal membranes collected after birth. Some in utero affected piglets were small, depressed, had undersized brains, and showed seizures. Some piglets showed potentially increased activity. Our data suggest that porcine model of persistent in utero ZIKV infection has a strong potential for translational research and can be used to test therapeutic interventions in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
Early online date21 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Animals
  • Brain/pathology
  • Communicable Diseases/transmission
  • Female
  • Fetus/virology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/pathology
  • Swine/virology
  • Zika Virus/pathogenicity
  • Zika Virus Infection/pathology

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