Replication of the Zika virus in different iPSC-derived neuronal cells and implications to assess efficacy of antivirals

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Infections with the Zika virus (ZIKV) are responsible for congenital abnormalities and neurological disorders. We here demonstrate that ZIKV productively infects three types of human iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells)-derived cells from the neural lineage, i.e. cortical and motor neurons as well as astrocytes. ZIKV infection results in all three cell types in the production of infectious virus particles and induces cytopathic effects (CPE). In cortical and motor neurons, an Asian isolate (PRVABC59) produced roughly 10-fold more virus than the prototypic African strain (MR766 strain). Viral replication and CPE is efficiently inhibited by the nucleoside polymerase inhibitor 7-deaza-2′-C-methyladenosine (7DMA). However, ribavirin and favipiravir, two molecules that inhibit ZIKV replication in Vero cells, did not inhibit ZIKV replication in the neuronal cells. These results highlight the need to assess the potential antiviral activity of novel ZIKV inhibitors in stem cell derived neuronal cultures.

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