• Press Release

Prior Dengue Virus Infection May Cause Severe Outcomes Following Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy, Mount Sinai Study Shows

  • New York, NY
  • (February 08, 2019)

Women who have previously been infected with dengue virus may be at risk for increased damage to their fetuses and placentas if they should later become infected with the Zika virus, researchers from the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai report.

This study is the first to report a possible mechanism for the enhancement of Zika virus progression during pregnancy in an animal model. 


Results of the study, “Dengue virus immunity increases Zika virus-induced damage during pregnancy,” were published in the February issue of Immunity, a journal published by Cell Press.

Zika virus outbreaks were first found to be associated with birth defects including microcephaly, in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain, in 2015 in Brazil, where dengue virus, a virus closely related to Zika virus, is endemic. The research team led by Jean Lim, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Co-Director of Microbiology Multidisciplinary Training in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, transferred dengue virus-specific antibodies into mice prior to infection with Zika virus during pregnancy. The presence of these antibodies in the mice significantly increased placental damage, fetal growth, and fetal resorption. Zika-infected human placental tissues also showed increased replication in the presence of dengue antibodies.

“Our data demonstrate that antibodies generated from a previous dengue virus infection can enhance the severity of Zika virus infection during pregnancy,” said Dr. Lim. “Our research may explain the high rate of microcephaly and birth defects observed in the recent Zika virus outbreak in South America.”

Other key authors on the study include Florian Krammer, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology, and Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, PhD, Director of Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

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