Background: Zika virus (ZIKV) has become a global concern because infection of pregnant mothers was linked to congenital birth defects. Zika virus is unique from other flaviviruses, because it is transmitted vertically and sexually in addition to by mosquito vectors. Prior studies in mice, nonhuman primates, and humans have shown that ZIKV targets the testis in males, resulting in persistent infection and oligospermia. However, its effects on the corresponding female gonads have not been evaluated. Methods: In this study, we assessed the effects of ZIKV on the ovary in nonpregnant mice. Results: During the acute phase, ZIKV productively infected the ovary causing accumulation of CD4+ and virus-specific CD8+ T cells. T cells protected against ZIKV infection in the ovary, as higher viral burden was measured in CD8-/- and TCRβδ-/- mice. Increased cell death and tissue inflammation in the ovary was observed during the acute phase of infection, but this normalized over time. Conclusions: In contrast to that observed with males, minimal persistence and no long-term consequences of ZIKV infection on ovarian follicular reserve or fertility were demonstrated in this model. Thus, although ZIKV replicates in cells of the ovary and causes acute oophoritis, there is rapid resolution and no long-term effects on fertility, at least in mice.
- T cells
- Zika virus