An analysis of 69 cytokines found 3 specific chemokines that are specifically associated with symptomatic Zika virus infection during pregnancy and may potentially serve as clinical biomarkers, according to research published in JCI Insight.
To investigate potential correlations between Zika virus-induced changes to maternal immunity with fetal abnormalities, investigators conducted sera immune profiling of 30 symptomatic pregnant women who had Zika virus and 30 healthy controls in endemic Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as 14 healthy controls from non-endemic Los Angeles, California.
A multiplex analysis of 69 cytokines found that CXCL10, CCL2, and CCL8 were all associated with symptomatic infection during pregnancy and that distinct immune profiles were detected at different trimesters in the infected pregnant women. According to the study investigators, the high CCL2 level and its inverse correlation with CD163, TNFRSF1A, and CCL22 levels was most significant, as it was associated with ZIKV-induced birth defects.
Two important limitations were noted by the study investigators. As a result of the inclusion criteria of symptomatic onset and the co-circulation of multiple arboviruses in Rio de Janeiro before and during the outbreak, investigators were unable to correlate the findings with asymptomatic pregnant patients who were positive for Zika virus or to obtain specimens from subjects with no prior infection history.
Despite the limitations, researchers have identified several biomarkers that they believe “may play indispensable roles in the diagnosis of Zika virus-associated fetal abnormalities.” This is an important finding because many people with Zika virus do not display symptoms. Study investigators recommended that future studies work to validate these biomarkers and improve the clinical management of long-term Zika virus-associated abnormalities in infants.
Foo SS, Chen W, Chan Y, et al. Biomarkers and immunoprofiles associated with fetal abnormalities of ZIKV-positive pregnancies. JCI Insight. 2018;3(21).