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Zika Virus Infection Linked to Uteroplacental Pathology

ZIKV infection causes placental inflammation and decreases oxygen reserve, oxygen permeability

MONDAY, Feb. 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Zika virus (ZIKV) infection seems to be associated with uteroplacental pathology and may affect oxygen transport within the placenta in pregnant rhesus macaques, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in Nature Communications.

Alec J. Hirsch, Ph.D., from the Oregon Health and Science University in Beaverton, and colleagues infected five pregnant rhesus macaques with ZIKV infection at different time points across gestation. The study focused on the impact of persistent ZIKV infection on uteroplacental pathology, blood flow, and fetal growth and development.

The researchers found that advanced noninvasive in vivo imaging studies revealed dramatic effects on placental oxygen reserve as well as significantly decreased oxygen permeability of the placental villi, despite seemingly normal fetal growth and persistent fetal-placenta-maternal infection. In ZIKV cases, abnormal oxygen transport within the placenta seemed to result from uterine vasculitis and placental villous damage. Following ZIKV infection, there was also a robust maternal-placental-fetal inflammatory response.

“This animal model reveals a potential relationship between ZIKV infection and uteroplacental pathology that appears to affect oxygen delivery to the fetus during development,” the authors write.

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