Zika infection may induce cranial neural crest cells to secrete neurotoxic levels of cytokines

Written by Peter Brown

Researchers from Stanford University (Stanford, CA, USA)  have demonstrated that cranial neural crest cells (CNCCs) are vulnerable to Zika virus within in vitro models, causing the secretion of neurotoxic levels of cytokines. These signaling molecules then promote apoptosis and drive aberrant differentiation of neural progenitor cells, which may provide an explanation for the mechanism behind the characteristic microcephaly in infected infants. The study, recently published in Cell Host & Microbe, investigated the effects of infected CNCCs on neurogenesis utilizing in vitro differentiation models, in which human embryonic stem cells were converted into CNCC precursors. “Affected babies have small brains and...

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