Public Release: 

Dengue virus infection may cause severe outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy

Prior Dengue virus infection may cause severe outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy, Mount Sinai study shows

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

(New York, NY, February 8, 2019) -- Women who have previously been infected with dengue virus may be at risk for increased damage to their fetuses and placentas if they should later become infected with the Zika virus, researchers from the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai report.

This study is the first to report a possible mechanism for the enhancement of Zika virus progression during pregnancy in an animal model.

Results of the study, "Dengue virus immunity increases Zika virus-induced damage during pregnancy," were published in the February issue of Immunity, a journal published by Cell Press.

Zika virus outbreaks were first found to be associated with birth defects including microcephaly, in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain, in 2015 in Brazil, where dengue virus, a virus closely related to Zika virus, is endemic. The research team led by Jean Lim, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Co-Director of Microbiology Multidisciplinary Training in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, transferred dengue virus-specific antibodies into mice prior to infection with Zika virus during pregnancy. The presence of these antibodies in the mice significantly increased placental damage, fetal growth, and fetal resorption. Zika-infected human placental tissues also showed increased replication in the presence of dengue antibodies.

"Our data demonstrate that antibodies generated from a previous dengue virus infection can enhance the severity of Zika virus infection during pregnancy," said Dr. Lim. "Our research may explain the high rate of microcephaly and birth defects observed in the recent Zika virus outbreak in South America."

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Other key authors on the study include Florian Krammer, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology, and Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, PhD, Director of Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in six other specialties in the 2018-2019 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology and 44th for Ear, Nose, and Throat. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ranked regionally.

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