Long-term alterations in brain and behavior after postnatal Zika virus infection in infant macaques

Jessica Raper, Zsofia Kovacs-Balint, Maud Mavigner, Sanjeev Gumber, Mark W. Burke, Jakob Habib, Cameron Mattingly, Damien Fair, Eric Earl, Eric Feczko, Martin Styner, Sherrie M. Jean, Joyce K. Cohen, Mehul S. Suthar, Mar M. Sanchez, Maria C. Alvarado, Ann Chahroudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has a profound impact on the fetal nervous system. The postnatal period is also a time of rapid brain growth, and it is important to understand the potential neurobehavioral consequences of ZIKV infection during infancy. Here we show that postnatal ZIKV infection in a rhesus macaque model resulted in long-term behavioral, motor, and cognitive changes, including increased emotional reactivity, decreased social contact, loss of balance, and deficits in visual recognition memory at one year of age. Structural and functional MRI showed that ZIKV-infected infant rhesus macaques had persistent enlargement of lateral ventricles, smaller volumes and altered functional connectivity between brain areas important for socioemotional behavior, cognitive, and motor function (e.g. amygdala, hippocampus, cerebellum). Neuropathological changes corresponded with neuroimaging results and were consistent with the behavioral and memory deficits. Overall, this study demonstrates that postnatal ZIKV infection in this model may have long-lasting neurodevelopmental consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2534
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 21 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Stephanie Ehnert and the YNPRC Division of Research Resources for expert assistance with animal procedures and Shanice Wilson, B.S. for her assistance with social behavior assessments. Funding for this study was provided by the Pilot Grant Program of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of the Director, Office of Research Infrastructures Programs, P51 OD011132, and the Center for Childhood Infections and Vaccines of Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (to A.C.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Animals
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition/physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Memory/physiology
  • Nerve Net/diagnostic imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Social Behavior
  • Zika Virus/physiology
  • Zika Virus Infection/diagnostic imaging

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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