Pathogenesis and Molecular Mechanisms of Zika Virus

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Zika virus (ZIKV) is one of the most important emerging viruses of 2016. A developing outbreak in the Americas has demonstrated an association between the virus and serious clinical manifestations, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults and congenital malformations in infants born to infected mothers. Pathogenesis and mechanisms of neurologic or immune disease by ZIKV have not been clearly delineated. However, several pathways have been described to explain viral involvement in brain and immune system as well as other organ systems such as eye, skin, and male and female reproductive tracts. ZIKV activates toll-like receptor 3 and several pathways have been described to explain the mechanisms at a molecular level. The mechanism of microcephaly has been more difficult to demonstrate experimentally, likely due to the multifactorial and complex nature of the phenotype. This article provides an overview of existing literature on ZIKV pathogenicity and possible molecular mechanisms of disease as outlined to date.

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