The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is one of the tightest physical barriers to prevent pathogens from invading the central nervous system (CNS). However, the mechanism by which Zika virus (ZIKV) crossing the BBB remains unresolved. We found ZIKV induced high morbidity and mortality in newborn mice, accompanied by inflammatory injury on CNS. ZIKV was found to replicate primarily in the cortex and hippocampus in neonatal mouse brains. An in vitro model revealed that ZIKV had no impact on hBMECs permeability but led to endothelial activation, as shown by the enhancement of adhesion molecules expression and F-actin redistribution. ZIKV replication in hBMECs might be associated with the suppression of IFN-β translation via inhibiting RPS6 phosphorylation. On the other hand, ZIKV infection induced IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs), activated the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, and promoted chemokine secretion. This study provides an understanding of virus replication and transmigration across the BBB during ZIKV infection.
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