Washington: A study has recently revealed that the proteins that mount a potent immune response to Zika viral infection can affect the placenta and fetal development.
These antiviral proteins, known as type I interferons, are required to fight Zika infection in mothers. But the role of interferons in providing an immune defence for the fetus is still not clear.
The team lead Akiko Iwasaki from Yale University studied two different types of mouse models -- one type lacked the receptor for type 1 interferon altogether and the other had only one copy of the interferon receptor gene.
The results revealed that the latter group showed signs of abnormal placental development, restricted fetal growth, and death. The finding demonstrates that the damaging effects of the immune response to Zika virus can outweigh the benefits for fetuses, said the researchers, noting that although type 1 interferon is critical to blocking replication of the virus, too much of it can be detrimental during pregnancy.
The study results may have implications for other infection-related pregnancy complications and possible interventions. The research is published in Science Immunology journal.