Ningshao Xia, Wangheng Hou, Shuxuan Li, Wei Wang, Qiyi Tang, Huan Zhao, Che Liu, Chunlian Zhong, Chunye Chen, Jian Liu, Tong Cheng, Najealicka Armstrong, Hua Zhu, Junkai Wan
Zika virus (ZIKV) has been defined as a teratogenic pathogen behind the increased number of cases of microcephaly in French Polynesia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and other South American countries. Experimental studies using animal models have achieved tremendous insight into understanding the viral pathogenesis, transmission, teratogenic mechanisms, and virus-host interactions. However, the animals used in published investigations are mostly interferon (IFN)-compromised, either genetically or via antibody treatment. Herein, we studied ZIKV infection in IFN-competent mice using African (MR766) and Asian strains (PRVABC59 and SZ-WIV01). After testing four different species of mice, we found that BALB/c neonatal mice were resistant to ZIKV infection, that Kunming, ICR and C57BL/6 neonatal mice were fatally susceptible to ZIKV infection, and that the fatality of C57BL/6 neonates from 1 to 3 days old were in a viral dose-dependent manner. The size and weight of the brain were significantly reduced, and the ZIKV-infected mice showed neuronal symptoms such as hind-limb paralysis, tremor, and poor balance during walking. Pathologic and immunofluorescent experiments revealed that ZIKV infected different areas of the central nervous system (CNS) including gray matter, hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and spinal cord, but not olfactory bulb. Interestingly, ZIKV replicated in multiple organs and resulted in pathogenesis in liver and testis, implying that ZIKV infection may engender a high health risk in neonates by postnatal infection. In summary, we investigated ZIKV pathogenesis using an animal model that is not IFN-compromised.