Nav: Home

What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?

March 23, 2017

Even as the Zika virus becomes more prevalent -- the Centers for Disease Control reports that the number of U.S. infants born with microcephaly and other birth defects is 20 times over the normal rate -- researchers are still trying to fully pin down the identifying consequences of the viral infection.

In a new paper published this week in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, first author Miguel del Campo, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues in Brazil and Spain, describe the phenotypic spectrum or set of observable characteristics of congenital Zika (ZIKV) syndrome, based upon clinical evaluations and neuroimaging of 83 Brazilian children with presumed or confirmed ZIKV congenital infections.

"These findings provide new insight into the mechanisms and timing of the brain disruption caused by Zika infection, and the sequence of developmental anomalies that may occur," said del Campo, who also serves as a medical geneticist at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego.

The physical characteristic most associated with Zika infection is microcephaly, a birth defect in which the baby's brain does not develop properly resulting in a smaller than normal head. In this case, prenatal brain development is initially normal, but then disrupted by the viral infection of neural progenitors. The research team reported that evidence of microcephaly and related skull abnormalities was present in 70 percent of the infants studied, though often it was subtle.

"Some cases had milder microcephaly or even a normal head circumference," said del Campo.

Besides the redundant scalp and abnormal cranial shapes resulting from the arrest in brain growth, other physical features consistent with ZIKV infection reflect immobility of the joints, resulting from altered brain function in utero. These included deep and multiple dimples (30.1 percent), distal hand or finger contractures (20.5 percent), feet malpositions (15.7 percent) and generalized athrogryposis involving multiple joints (9.6 percent).

Neurologically, the primary features seen most often and most evidently in infants were alterations in motor activity, reflected in body tone, posture and motility or movement; severe hypertonia (abnormal muscle tension and contraction); abnormal neurobehaviors, such as poor or delayed response to visual stimuli, and excitability. Babies cried excessively but monotonously, and were often inconsolable.

Brain imaging revealed combinations of characteristic abnormalities, such as calcifications, poor gyral patterns and underdevelopment of the brainstem and cerebellum. There was a marked decrease in both gray and white matter volumes.

Del Campo said the findings suggest these children will have severe disabilities, a reality with strong implications for future clinical care. They highlight the variable severity of ZIKV brain damage and other characteristics, depending upon onset of maternal infection. Earlier detection of maternal and prenatal infection, he said, is critical to developing remedies to prevent or ameliorate ZIKV effects.
-end-
Co-authors include: Ian M.L. Feitosa, André A. Silva, Fernanda S. L. Vianna, and senior author Lavinia Schuler-Faccini, Departamento de Genetica, Universidade Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; Erlane M. Ribeiro, Andre L.S. Pessoa and Saile C. Kerbage, Hospital Infantil Albert Sabin, Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil; Dafne D. G. Horovitz, Instituto Fernandes Figueira, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Giovanny V. A. França, Secretariat of Health Surveillance, Ministry of Health, Brasilia, Brazil; Alfredo García-Alix, Institut de Recerca Pediàtrica Sant Joan de Déu, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Maria J. R. Doriqui, Hospital Infantil Dr. Juvêncio Mattos, São Luiz, Brazil; Hospital Infantil, São Luiz, Brazil; Hector Y. C. Wanderley, Secretaria de Estado da Saúde do Espírito Santo, Vitória, Brazil; Maria V. T. Sanseverino, SIAT-Brazilian Teratogen Information Service, Medical Genetics Service, Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; João I. C. F. Neri, Universidade Potiguar, Natal, Brazil; João M. Pina-Neto, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirao Preto, Departamento de Genetica, Universidade de Sao Paolo, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil; Emerson S. Santos, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Lagarto, Brazil; Islane Verçosa, Centro de Aperfeiçoamento Visual Ver a Esperança Renascer/CAVIVER, Fortaleza, Brazil; Mirlene C. S. P. Cernach, Departamento de Genetica Medica, Universidade Federal de Sao Paolo (UNIFESP), Sao Paolo, Brazil; Paula F. V. Medeiros, Universidade Federal de Campina Grande, Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil; Vanessa van der Linden, Associação de Assistência à Criança Deficiente/AACD, Recife, Brazil; Celina M. T. Martelli, Marli T. Cordeiro and Rafael Dhalia, Centro de Pesquisas Aggeu Magalhães, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Recife, Brazil; Cesar G. Victora, Graduate Program in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; and Denise P. Cavalcanti, Departamento de Genetica Medica, Universidade de Campinas UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil.

University of California - San Diego

Related Brain Articles:

Study describes changes to structural brain networks after radiotherapy for brain tumors
Researchers compared the thickness of brain cortex in patients with brain tumors before and after radiation therapy was applied and found significant dose-dependent changes in the structural properties of cortical neural networks, at both the local and global level.
Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks
Using a sophisticated type of mathematics in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain.
New brain mapping tool produces higher resolution data during brain surgery
Researchers have developed a new device to map the brain during surgery and distinguish between healthy and diseased tissues.
Newborn baby brain scans will help scientists track brain development
Scientists have today published ground-breaking scans of newborn babies' brains which researchers from all over the world can download and use to study how the human brain develops.
New test may quickly identify mild traumatic brain injury with underlying brain damage
A new test using peripheral vision reaction time could lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment of mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion.
This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits
Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Brain scientists at TU Dresden examine brain networks during short-term task learning
'Practice makes perfect' is a common saying. We all have experienced that the initially effortful implementation of novel tasks is becoming rapidly easier and more fluent after only a few repetitions.
Balancing time & space in the brain: New model holds promise for predicting brain dynamics
A team of scientists has extended the balanced network model to provide deep and testable predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity.
New view of brain development: Striking differences between adult and newborn mouse brain
Spikes in neuronal activity in young mice do not spur corresponding boosts in blood flow -- a discovery that stands in stark contrast to the adult mouse brain.
Map of teenage brain provides evidence of link between antisocial behavior and brain development
The brains of teenagers with serious antisocial behavior problems differ significantly in structure to those of their peers, providing the clearest evidence to date that their behavior stems from changes in brain development in early life, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

Related Brain Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...