Zika virus (ZIKV) infection during pregnancy has been causally linked to a constellation of neurodevelopmental deformities in the fetus resulting in a disease termed congenital Zika syndrome (CZS). Here we detail how ZIKV infection produces extensive neuropathology in the developing mouse brain and spinal cord of both sexes. Surprisingly, neuropathology differs depending on viral strain with a French Polynesian isolate producing primarily excitotoxicity and a Brazilian isolate being almost exclusively apoptotic but occurring over a prolonged period that is more likely to produce severe hypoplasia. We also show exposure can produce a characteristic pattern of infection that mirrors neuropathology and ultimately results in gross morphological deformities strikingly similar to CZS. This research provides a valuable mouse model mirroring the clinical course of disease that can be used to test potential therapies to improve treatment and gain a better understanding of the disabilities associated with CZS.
- Congenital Zika syndrome
- Zika virus