Yannick Simonin a , 1 , Nejla Erkilic b , 1 , Krishna Damodar b , Marion Clé a , Caroline Desmetz c , Karine Bolloré a , Mehdi Taleb a , Simona Torriano b , Jonathan Barthelemy a , Grégor Dubois b , Anne Dominique Lajoix c , Vincent Foulongne d , Edouard Tuaillon d , Philippe Van de Perre d , Vasiliki Kalatzis b , * , 2 , Sara Salinas a , * , 2
20 December 2018
Zika virus (ZIKV) has recently re-emerged as a pathogenic agent with epidemic capacities as was well illustrated in South America. Because of the extent of this health crisis, a number of more serious symptoms have become associated with ZIKV infection than what was initially described. In particular, neuronal and ocular disorders have been characterized, both in infants and in adults. Notably, the macula and the retina can be strongly affected by ZIKV, possibly by a direct effect of the virus. This is supported by the detection of replicative and infectious virus in lachrimal fluid in human patients and mouse models.
Here, we used an innovative, state-of-the-art iPSC-derived human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) model to study ZIKV retinal impairment.
We showed that the human RPE is highly susceptible to ZIKV infection and that a ZIKV African strain was more virulent and led to a more potent epithelium disruption and stronger anti-viral response than an Asian strain, suggesting lineage differences. Moreover, ZIKV infection led to impaired membrane dynamics involved in endocytosis, organelle biogenesis and potentially secretion, key mechanisms of RPE homeostasis and function.
Taken together, our results suggest that ZIKV has a highly efficient ocular tropism, which creates a strong inflammatory environment that could have acute or chronic adverse effects.