Immune molecule protects against Zika virus infection in animal models

March 14, 2017

A molecule naturally produced by the immune system protects mice and monkeys against Zika virus infection, an international team of researchers has found. Administering the molecule, called 25-hydroxycholesterol or 25HC, to pregnant mice reduced Zika virus infection in the fetal brain and protected against Zika-induced microcephaly. The work was supported in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health.

Previous experiments suggested that 25HC has broad antiviral activity. In the new study, researchers led by Genhong Cheng, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, investigated whether 25HC has a protective effect against Zika virus, for which there is no licensed antiviral drug or vaccine. Their initial cell culture experiments indicated that 25HC can block Zika and related viruses, including dengue and yellow fever viruses, from entering cells.

The researchers next established that 25HC is protective in mouse and monkey models of Zika virus infection. For example, mice given 25HC before being infected with Zika virus had significantly lower blood levels of the virus than mice given a placebo. 25HC-treated mice were more likely to survive Zika infection, and the surviving mice had no clinical symptoms. Monkeys given 25HC also had reduced levels of Zika virus in blood and urine and did not develop a fever in response to infection.

To determine whether 25HC could protect against Zika-induced microcephaly, the researchers gave pregnant mice 25HC or placebo before and for five days after their embryos were infected with Zika virus. Treatment with 25HC significantly decreased levels of Zika virus in fetal mouse brain tissue and greatly reduced the occurrence and severity of developmental defects, including small fetal brain size. The researchers did not observe any adverse effects on pregnancy or birth related to 25HC treatment.

The authors conclude that 25HC shows promise as a natural agent that can combat a broad array of viruses, including Zika virus. Additional preclinical research is needed before investigating whether 25HC can safely protect humans against Zika virus infection and associated birth defects.
-end-
ARTICLE: C Li, YQ Deng, S Wang, F Ma et al. 25-Hydroxycholesterol protects host against Zika virus infection and its associated microcephaly in mouse model. Immunity DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2017.02.012 (2017).

WHO: NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and Wolfgang Leitner, Ph.D., chief of the Innate Immunity Section in NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation, are available to comment on the findings.

CONTACT: To schedule interviews, please contact Hillary Hoffman, (301) 402-1663, hillary.hoffman@nih.gov.

NIAID conducts and supports research--at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide--to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Related Infectious Diseases Articles from Brightsurf:

Understanding the spread of infectious diseases
Physicists at M√ľnster University (Germany) have shown in model simulations that the COVID-19 infection rates decrease significantly through social distancing.

Forecasting elections with a model of infectious diseases
Election forecasting is an innately challenging endeavor, with results that can be difficult to interpret and may leave many questions unanswered after close races unfold.

COVID-19 a reminder of the challenge of emerging infectious diseases
The emergence and rapid increase in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus, pose complex challenges to the global public health, research and medical communities, write federal scientists from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Certain antidepressants could provide treatment for multiple infectious diseases
Some antidepressants could potentially be used to treat a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria living within cells, according to work by researchers in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and collaborators at other institutions.

Opioid epidemic is increasing rates of some infectious diseases
The US faces a public health crisis as the opioid epidemic fuels growing rates of certain infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, heart infections, and skin and soft tissue infections.

Infectious diseases could be diagnosed with smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa
A new Imperial-led review has outlined how health workers could use existing phones to predict and curb the spread of infectious diseases.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Experts warn of a surge in vector-borne diseases as humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsens
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is accelerating the re-emergence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease, dengue, and Zika virus, and threatens to jeopardize public health gains in the country over the past two decades, warn leading public health experts.

Glow-in-the-dark paper as a rapid test for infectious diseases
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and Keio University (Japan) present a practicable and reliable way to test for infectious diseases.

Math shows how human behavior spreads infectious diseases
Mathematics can help public health workers better understand and influence human behaviors that lead to the spread of infectious disease, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Many Americans say infectious and emerging diseases in other countries will threaten the US
An overwhelming majority of Americans (95%) think infectious and emerging diseases facing other countries will pose a 'major' or 'minor' threat to the U.S. in the next few years, but more than half (61%) say they are confident the federal government can prevent a major infectious disease outbreak in the US, according to a new national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America and the American Society for Microbiology.

Read More: Infectious Diseases News and Infectious Diseases Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.