ResearchPad - microcephaly https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[New estimates of the Zika virus epidemic attack rate in Northeastern Brazil from 2015 to 2016: A modelling analysis based on Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) surveillance data]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7754 The mandatory reporting of the Zika virus (ZIKV) disease began region-wide in February 2016, and it is believed that ZIKV cases could have been highly under-reported before that. Given the Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is relatively well reported, the GBS surveillance data has the potential to act as a reasonably reliable proxy for inferring the true ZIKV epidemics. We developed a mathematical model incorporating weather effects to study the ZIKV-GBS epidemics and estimated the key epidemiological parameters. It was found that the attack rate of ZIKV was likely to be lower than 33% over the two epidemic waves. The risk rate from symptomatic ZIKV case to develop GBS was estimated to be approximately 0.0061%. The analysis suggests that it would be difficult for another ZIKV outbreak to appear in Northeastern Brazil in the near future.

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<![CDATA[The association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in Brazil 2015–2017: An observational analysis of over 4 million births]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c882414d5eed0c484639707

Background

In 2015, high rates of microcephaly were reported in Northeast Brazil following the first South American Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak. Reported microcephaly rates in other Zika-affected areas were significantly lower, suggesting alternate causes or the involvement of arboviral cofactors in exacerbating microcephaly rates.

Methods and findings

We merged data from multiple national reporting databases in Brazil to estimate exposure to 9 known or hypothesized causes of microcephaly for every pregnancy nationwide since the beginning of the ZIKV outbreak; this generated between 3.6 and 5.4 million cases (depending on analysis) over the time period 1 January 2015–23 May 2017. The association between ZIKV and microcephaly was statistically tested against models with alternative causes or with effect modifiers. We found no evidence for alternative non-ZIKV causes of the 2015–2017 microcephaly outbreak, nor that concurrent exposure to arbovirus infection or vaccination modified risk. We estimate an absolute risk of microcephaly of 40.8 (95% CI 34.2–49.3) per 10,000 births and a relative risk of 16.8 (95% CI 3.2–369.1) given ZIKV infection in the first or second trimester of pregnancy; however, because ZIKV infection rates were highly variable, most pregnant women in Brazil during the ZIKV outbreak will have been subject to lower risk levels. Statistically significant associations of ZIKV with other birth defects were also detected, but at lower relative risks than that of microcephaly (relative risk < 1.5). Our analysis was limited by missing data prior to the establishment of nationwide ZIKV surveillance, and its findings may be affected by unmeasured confounding causes of microcephaly not available in routinely collected surveillance data.

Conclusions

This study strengthens the evidence that congenital ZIKV infection, particularly in the first 2 trimesters of pregnancy, is associated with microcephaly and less frequently with other birth defects. The finding of no alternative causes for geographic differences in microcephaly rate leads us to hypothesize that the Northeast region was disproportionately affected by this Zika outbreak, with 94% of an estimated 8.5 million total cases occurring in this region, suggesting a need for seroprevalence surveys to determine the underlying reason.

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<![CDATA[Potential inconsistencies in Zika surveillance data and our understanding of risk during pregnancy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1813a1d5eed0c48477565b

Background

A significant increase in microcephaly incidence was reported in Northeast Brazil at the end of 2015, which has since been attributed to an epidemic of Zika virus (ZIKV) infections earlier that year. Further incidence of congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) was expected following waves of ZIKV infection throughout Latin America; however, only modest increases in microcephaly and CZS incidence have since been observed. The quantitative relationship between ZIKV infection, gestational age and congenital outcome remains poorly understood.

Methodology/Principle findings

We characterised the gestational-age-varying risk of microcephaly given ZIKV infection using publicly available incidence data from multiple locations in Brazil and Colombia. We found that the relative timings and shapes of ZIKV infection and microcephaly incidence curves suggested different gestational risk profiles for different locations, varying in both the duration and magnitude of gestational risk. Data from Northeast Brazil suggested a narrow window of risk during the first trimester, whereas data from Colombia suggested persistent risk throughout pregnancy. We then used the model to estimate which combination of behavioural and reporting changes would have been sufficient to explain the absence of a second microcephaly incidence wave in Bahia, Brazil; a population for which we had two years of data. We found that a 18.9-fold increase in ZIKV infection reporting rate was consistent with observed patterns.

Conclusions

Our study illustrates how surveillance data may be used in principle to answer key questions in the absence of directed epidemiological studies. However, in this case, we suggest that currently available surveillance data are insufficient to accurately estimate the gestational-age-varying risk of microcephaly from ZIKV infection. The methods used here may be of use in future outbreaks and may help to inform improved surveillance and interpretation in countries yet to experience an outbreak of ZIKV infection.

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<![CDATA[Identification of candidate gene FAM183A and novel pathogenic variants in known genes: High genetic heterogeneity for autosomal recessive intellectual disability]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0ae474d5eed0c484589bc7

The etiology of intellectual disability (ID) is heterogeneous including a variety of genetic and environmental causes. Historically, most research has not focused on autosomal recessive ID (ARID), which is a significant cause of ID, particularly in areas where parental consanguinity is common. Identification of genetic causes allows for precision diagnosis and improved genetic counseling. We performed whole exome sequencing to 21 Turkish families, seven multiplex and 14 simplex, with nonsyndromic ID. Based on the presence of multiple affected siblings born to unaffected parents and/or shared ancestry, we consider all families as ARID. We revealed the underlying causative variants in seven families in MCPH1 (c.427dupA, p.T143Nfs*5), WDR62 (c.3406C>T, p.R1136*), ASPM (c.5219_5225delGAGGATA, p.R1740Tfs*7), RARS (c.1588A>G, p.T530A), CC2D1A (c.811delG, p.A271Pfs*30), TUSC3 (c.793C>T, p.Q265*) and ZNF335 (c.808C>T, p.R270C and c.3715C>A, p.Q1239K) previously linked with ARID. Besides ARID genes, in one family, affected male siblings were hemizygous for PQBP1 (c.459_462delAGAG, p.R153Sfs*41) and in one family the proband was female and heterozygous for X-chromosomal SLC9A6 (c.1631+1G>A) variant. Each of these variants, except for those in MCPH1 and PQBP1, have not been previously published. Additionally in one family, two affected children were homozygous for the c.377G>A (p.W126*) variant in the FAM183A, a gene not previously associated with ARID. No causative variants were found in the remaining 11 families. A wide variety of variants explain half of families with ARID. FAM183A is a promising novel candidate gene for ARID.

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<![CDATA[A homozygous KAT2B variant modulates the clinical phenotype of ADD3 deficiency in humans and flies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b079d4e463d7e75962e790f

Recent evidence suggests that the presence of more than one pathogenic mutation in a single patient is more common than previously anticipated. One of the challenges hereby is to dissect the contribution of each gene mutation, for which animal models such as Drosophila can provide a valuable aid. Here, we identified three families with mutations in ADD3, encoding for adducin-γ, with intellectual disability, microcephaly, cataracts and skeletal defects. In one of the families with additional cardiomyopathy and steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS), we found a homozygous variant in KAT2B, encoding the lysine acetyltransferase 2B, with impact on KAT2B protein levels in patient fibroblasts, suggesting that this second mutation might contribute to the increased disease spectrum. In order to define the contribution of ADD3 and KAT2B mutations for the patient phenotype, we performed functional experiments in the Drosophila model. We found that both mutations were unable to fully rescue the viability of the respective null mutants of the Drosophila homologs, hts and Gcn5, suggesting that they are indeed pathogenic in flies. While the KAT2B/Gcn5 mutation additionally showed a significantly reduced ability to rescue morphological and functional defects of cardiomyocytes and nephrocytes (podocyte-like cells), this was not the case for the ADD3 mutant rescue. Yet, the simultaneous knockdown of KAT2B and ADD3 synergistically impaired kidney and heart function in flies as well as the adhesion and migration capacity of cultured human podocytes, indicating that mutations in both genes may be required for the full clinical manifestation. Altogether, our studies describe the expansion of the phenotypic spectrum in ADD3 deficiency associated with a homozygous likely pathogenic KAT2B variant and thereby identify KAT2B as a susceptibility gene for kidney and heart disease in ADD3-associated disorders.

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<![CDATA[Preventing Zika Virus Infection during Pregnancy Using a Seasonal Window of Opportunity for Conception]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae4ab0ee8fa60bbcfa8

It has come to light that Zika virus (ZIKV) infection during pregnancy can result in trans-placental transmission to the fetus along with fetal death, congenital microcephaly, and/or Central Nervous System (CNS) malformations. There are projected to be >9,200,000 births annually in countries with ongoing ZIKV transmission. In response to the ZIKV threat, the World Health Organization (WHO) is strategically targeting prevention of infection in pregnant women and funding contraception in epidemic regions. I propose that the damaging effects of ZIKV can be reduced using a seasonal window of opportunity for conception that may minimize maternal exposure. Like other acute viral infections—including the related flavivirus, dengue virus (DENV)—the transmission of ZIKV is anticipated to be seasonal. By seasonally planning pregnancy, this aspect of pathogen ecology can be leveraged to align sensitive periods of gestation with the low-transmission season.

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<![CDATA[After the epidemic: Zika virus projections for Latin America and the Caribbean]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5ab173c0463d7e58d56d1e0e

Background

Zika is one of the most challenging emergent vector-borne diseases, yet its future public health impact remains unclear. Zika was of little public health concern until recent reports of its association with congenital syndromes. By 3 August 2017 ∼217,000 Zika cases and ∼3,400 cases of associated congenital syndrome were reported in Latin America and the Caribbean. Some modelling exercises suggest that Zika virus infection could become endemic in agreement with recent declarations from the The World Health Organisation.

Methodology/Principal findings

We produced high-resolution spatially-explicit projections of Zika cases, associated congenital syndromes and monetary costs for Latin America and the Caribbean now that the epidemic phase of the disease appears to be over. In contrast to previous studies which have adopted a modelling approach to map Zika potential, we project case numbers using a statistical approach based upon reported dengue case data as a Zika surrogate. Our results indicate that ∼12.3 (0.7–162.3) million Zika cases could be expected across Latin America and the Caribbean every year, leading to ∼64.4 (0.2–5159.3) thousand cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome and ∼4.7 (0.0–116.3) thousand cases of microcephaly. The economic burden of these neurological sequelae are estimated to be USD ∼2.3 (USD 0–159.3) billion per annum.

Conclusions/Significance

Zika is likely to have significant public health consequences across Latin America and the Caribbean in years to come. Our projections inform regional and federal health authorities, offering an opportunity to adapt to this public health challenge.

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<![CDATA[Zika Fetal Neuropathogenesis: Etiology of a Viral Syndrome]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f1ab0ee8fa60b6ea93

The ongoing Zika virus epidemic in the Americas and the observed association with both fetal abnormalities (primary microcephaly) and adult autoimmune pathology (Guillain–Barré syndrome) has brought attention to this neglected pathogen. While initial case studies generated significant interest in the Zika virus outbreak, larger prospective epidemiology and basic virology studies examining the mechanisms of Zika viral infection and associated pathophysiology are only now starting to be published. In this review, we analyze Zika fetal neuropathogenesis from a comparative pathology perspective, using the historic metaphor of “TORCH” viral pathogenesis to provide context. By drawing parallels to other viral infections of the fetus, we identify common themes and mechanisms that may illuminate the observed pathology. The existing data on the susceptibility of various cells to both Zika and other flavivirus infections are summarized. Finally, we highlight relevant aspects of the known molecular mechanisms of flavivirus replication.

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<![CDATA[First International Workshop on Zika Virus Held by Oswaldo Cruz Foundation FIOCRUZ in Northeast Brazil March 2016 – A Meeting Report]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e8ab0ee8fa60b6bcee ]]> <![CDATA[The potential economic burden of Zika in the continental United States]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5aab0ee8fa60bdf2ca

Background

As the Zika virus epidemic continues to spread internationally, countries such as the United States must determine how much to invest in prevention, control, and response. Fundamental to these decisions is quantifying the potential economic burden of Zika under different scenarios.

Methodology/Principle findings

To inform such decision making, our team developed a computational model to forecast the potential economic burden of Zika across six states in the US (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) which are at greatest risk of Zika emergence, under a wide range of attack rates, scenarios and circumstances. In order to accommodate a wide range of possibilities, different scenarios explored the effects of varying the attack rate from 0.01% to 10%. Across the six states, an attack rate of 0.01% is estimated to cost $183.4 million to society ($117.1 million in direct medical costs and $66.3 million in productivity losses), 0.025% would result in $198.6 million ($119.4 million and $79.2 million), 0.10% would result in $274.6 million ($130.8 million and $143.8 million) and 1% would result in $1.2 billion ($268.0 million and $919.2 million).

Conclusions

Our model and study show how direct medical costs, Medicaid costs, productivity losses, and total costs to society may vary with different attack rates across the six states and the circumstances at which they may exceed certain thresholds (e.g., Zika prevention and control funding allocations that are being debated by the US government). A Zika attack rate of 0.3% across the six states at greatest risk of Zika infection, would result in total costs that exceed $0.5 billion, an attack rate of 1% would exceed $1 billion, and an attack rate of 2% would exceed $2 billion.

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<![CDATA[Echocardiographic findings in infants with presumed congenital Zika syndrome: Retrospective case series study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db51ab0ee8fa60bdc351

Objective

To report the echocardiographic evaluation of 103 infants with presumed congenital Zika syndrome.

Methods

An observational retrospective study was performed at Instituto de Medicina Integral Prof. Fernando Figueira (IMIP), Recife, Brazil. 103 infants with presumed congenital Zika syndrome. All infants had microcephaly and head computed tomography findings compatible with congenital Zika syndrome. Zika IgM antibody was detected in cerebrospinal fluid samples of 23 infants. In 80 infants, the test was not performed because it was not available at that time. All infants had negative serology for HIV, syphilis, rubella, cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis. A complete transthoracic two-dimensional, M-mode, continuous wave and pulsed wave Doppler and color Doppler echocardiographic (PHILIPS HD11XE or HD15) examination was performed on all infants.

Results

14/103 (13.5%) echocardiograms were compatible with congenital heart disease: 5 with an ostium secundum atrial septal defect, 8 had a hemodynamically insignificant small apical muscular ventricular septal defect and one infant with dyspnea had a large membranous ventricular septal defect. The echocardiograms considered normal included 45 infants with a persistent foramen ovale and 16 with a minimum patent ductus arteriosus.

Conclusions

Preliminarily this study suggests that congenital Zika syndrome may be associated with an increase prevalence of congenital heart disease. However the types of defects noted were septal defects, a proportion of which would not be hemodynamically significant.

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<![CDATA[Zika Virus Outbreak in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Clinical Characterization, Epidemiological and Virological Aspects]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da79ab0ee8fa60b97bb2

Background

In 2015, Brazil was faced with the cocirculation of three arboviruses of major public health importance. The emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) presents new challenges to both clinicians and public health authorities. Overlapping clinical features between diseases caused by ZIKV, Dengue (DENV) and Chikungunya (CHIKV) and the lack of validated serological assays for ZIKV make accurate diagnosis difficult.

Methodology / Principal Findings

The outpatient service for acute febrile illnesses in Fiocruz initiated a syndromic clinical observational study in 2007 to capture unusual presentations of DENV infections. In January 2015, an increase of cases with exanthematic disease was observed. Trained physicians evaluated the patients using a detailed case report form that included clinical assessment and laboratory investigations. The laboratory diagnostic algorithm included assays for detection of ZIKV, CHIKV and DENV. 364 suspected cases of Zika virus disease were identified based on clinical criteria between January and July 2015. Of these, 262 (71.9%) were tested and 119 (45.4%) were confirmed by the detection of ZIKV RNA. All of the samples with sequence information available clustered within the Asian genotype.

Conclusions / Significance

This is the first report of a ZIKV outbreak in the state of Rio de Janeiro, based on a large number of suspected (n = 364) and laboratory confirmed cases (n = 119). We were able to demonstrate that ZIKV was circulating in Rio de Janeiro as early as January 2015. The peak of the outbreak was documented in May/June 2015. More than half of the patients reported headache, arthralgia, myalgia, non-purulent conjunctivitis, and lower back pain, consistent with the case definition of suspected ZIKV disease issued by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). However, fever, when present, was low-intensity and short-termed. In our opinion, pruritus, the second most common clinical sign presented by the confirmed cases, should be added to the PAHO case definition, while fever could be given less emphasis. The emergence of ZIKV as a new pathogen for Brazil in 2015 underscores the need for clinical vigilance and strong epidemiological and laboratory surveillance.

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<![CDATA[Haploinsufficiency for Core Exon Junction Complex Components Disrupts Embryonic Neurogenesis and Causes p53-Mediated Microcephaly]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e8ab0ee8fa60b6bd5f

The exon junction complex (EJC) is an RNA binding complex comprised of the core components Magoh, Rbm8a, and Eif4a3. Human mutations in EJC components cause neurodevelopmental pathologies. Further, mice heterozygous for either Magoh or Rbm8a exhibit aberrant neurogenesis and microcephaly. Yet despite the requirement of these genes for neurodevelopment, the pathogenic mechanisms linking EJC dysfunction to microcephaly remain poorly understood. Here we employ mouse genetics, transcriptomic and proteomic analyses to demonstrate that haploinsufficiency for each of the 3 core EJC components causes microcephaly via converging regulation of p53 signaling. Using a new conditional allele, we first show that Eif4a3 haploinsufficiency phenocopies aberrant neurogenesis and microcephaly of Magoh and Rbm8a mutant mice. Transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of embryonic brains at the onset of neurogenesis identifies common pathways altered in each of the 3 EJC mutants, including ribosome, proteasome, and p53 signaling components. We further demonstrate all 3 mutants exhibit defective splicing of RNA regulatory proteins, implying an EJC dependent RNA regulatory network that fine-tunes gene expression. Finally, we show that genetic ablation of one downstream pathway, p53, significantly rescues microcephaly of all 3 EJC mutants. This implicates p53 activation as a major node of neurodevelopmental pathogenesis following EJC impairment. Altogether our study reveals new mechanisms to help explain how EJC mutations influence neurogenesis and underlie neurodevelopmental disease.

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<![CDATA[Environmental and Social Change Drive the Explosive Emergence of Zika Virus in the Americas]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdcf3a

Since Zika virus (ZIKV) was detected in Brazil in 2015, it has spread explosively across the Americas and has been linked to increased incidence of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). In one year, it has infected over 500,000 people (suspected and confirmed cases) in 40 countries and territories in the Americas. Along with recent epidemics of dengue (DENV) and chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which are also transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes, the emergence of ZIKV suggests an ongoing intensification of environmental and social factors that have given rise to a new regime of arbovirus transmission. Here, we review hypotheses and preliminary evidence for the environmental and social changes that have fueled the ZIKV epidemic. Potential drivers include climate variation, land use change, poverty, and human movement. Beyond the direct impact of microcephaly and GBS, the ZIKV epidemic will likely have social ramifications for women’s health and economic consequences for tourism and beyond.

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<![CDATA[Prevalence of Antibodies to Zika Virus in Mothers from Hawaii Who Delivered Babies with and without Microcephaly between 2009-2012]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f9ab0ee8fa60b713cd

Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito-borne pathogen. ZIKV infection is linked to the development of severe fetal abnormalities that include spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, hydranencephaly, and microcephaly. ZIKV outbreaks have been recorded in the United States. We recently demonstrated the first congenital ZIKV infection in the United States. In this study, we investigated archived blood samples from six mothers who gave birth to babies with microcephaly and 12 mothers who gave birth to healthy babies in Hawaii between 2009 and 2012. We tested maternal blood for the presence of ZIKV IgM and IgG antibodies using commercially available human ZIKV IgM and IgG ELISA kits. Blood from one mother who delivered babies with microcephaly tested positive for ZIKV IgM antibody (16.6%) and blood from three mothers tested positive for ZIKV IgG antibody (50%). ZIKV showed a trend toward significance with microcephaly. ZIKV IgG antibody positive mothers were more likely to deliver babies with microcephaly than mothers who were negative for ZIKV IgG antibodies (Odds ratio [OR] = 11.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.8–147.9, p = 0.083). Similarly, ZIKV IgM antibody positive mothers were also more likely to deliver babies with microcephaly than mothers who were negative for ZIKV IgM antibody (OR = 6.8, 95% CI = 0.2–195.1). These data provide further evidence of a link between ZIKV infection and microcephaly and suggests presence of ZIKV positive cases and associated microcephaly in the United States as early as 2009.

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<![CDATA[Transmission Dynamics of Zika Virus in Island Populations: A Modelling Analysis of the 2013–14 French Polynesia Outbreak]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa3ab0ee8fa60ba6a74

Between October 2013 and April 2014, more than 30,000 cases of Zika virus (ZIKV) disease were estimated to have attended healthcare facilities in French Polynesia. ZIKV has also been reported in Africa and Asia, and in 2015 the virus spread to South America and the Caribbean. Infection with ZIKV has been associated with neurological complications including Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) and microcephaly, which led the World Health Organization to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2015. To better understand the transmission dynamics of ZIKV, we used a mathematical model to examine the 2013–14 outbreak on the six major archipelagos of French Polynesia. Our median estimates for the basic reproduction number ranged from 2.6–4.8, with an estimated 11.5% (95% CI: 7.32–17.9%) of total infections reported. As a result, we estimated that 94% (95% CI: 91–97%) of the total population of the six archipelagos were infected during the outbreak. Based on the demography of French Polynesia, our results imply that if ZIKV infection provides complete protection against future infection, it would take 12–20 years before there are a sufficient number of susceptible individuals for ZIKV to re-emerge, which is on the same timescale as the circulation of dengue virus serotypes in the region. Our analysis suggests that ZIKV may exhibit similar dynamics to dengue virus in island populations, with transmission characterized by large, sporadic outbreaks with a high proportion of asymptomatic or unreported cases.

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<![CDATA[Update on Zika Diagnostic Tests and WHO’s Related Activities]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db54ab0ee8fa60bdcf99 ]]> <![CDATA[Zika Virus Infection as a Cause of Congenital Brain Abnormalities and Guillain–Barré Syndrome: Systematic Review]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdcdf7

Background

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in March 2016 that there was scientific consensus that the mosquito-borne Zika virus was a cause of the neurological disorder Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) and of microcephaly and other congenital brain abnormalities based on rapid evidence assessments. Decisions about causality require systematic assessment to guide public health actions. The objectives of this study were to update and reassess the evidence for causality through a rapid and systematic review about links between Zika virus infection and (a) congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, in the foetuses and offspring of pregnant women and (b) GBS in any population, and to describe the process and outcomes of an expert assessment of the evidence about causality.

Methods and Findings

The study had three linked components. First, in February 2016, we developed a causality framework that defined questions about the relationship between Zika virus infection and each of the two clinical outcomes in ten dimensions: temporality, biological plausibility, strength of association, alternative explanations, cessation, dose–response relationship, animal experiments, analogy, specificity, and consistency. Second, we did a systematic review (protocol number CRD42016036693). We searched multiple online sources up to May 30, 2016 to find studies that directly addressed either outcome and any causality dimension, used methods to expedite study selection, data extraction, and quality assessment, and summarised evidence descriptively. Third, WHO convened a multidisciplinary panel of experts who assessed the review findings and reached consensus statements to update the WHO position on causality. We found 1,091 unique items up to May 30, 2016. For congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, we included 72 items; for eight of ten causality dimensions (all except dose–response relationship and specificity), we found that more than half the relevant studies supported a causal association with Zika virus infection. For GBS, we included 36 items, of which more than half the relevant studies supported a causal association in seven of ten dimensions (all except dose–response relationship, specificity, and animal experimental evidence). Articles identified nonsystematically from May 30 to July 29, 2016 strengthened the review findings. The expert panel concluded that (a) the most likely explanation of available evidence from outbreaks of Zika virus infection and clusters of microcephaly is that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly, and (b) the most likely explanation of available evidence from outbreaks of Zika virus infection and GBS is that Zika virus infection is a trigger of GBS. The expert panel recognised that Zika virus alone may not be sufficient to cause either congenital brain abnormalities or GBS but agreed that the evidence was sufficient to recommend increased public health measures. Weaknesses are the limited assessment of the role of dengue virus and other possible cofactors, the small number of comparative epidemiological studies, and the difficulty in keeping the review up to date with the pace of publication of new research.

Conclusions

Rapid and systematic reviews with frequent updating and open dissemination are now needed both for appraisal of the evidence about Zika virus infection and for the next public health threats that will emerge. This systematic review found sufficient evidence to say that Zika virus is a cause of congenital abnormalities and is a trigger of GBS.

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<![CDATA[ZIKV – CDB: A Collaborative Database to Guide Research Linking SncRNAs and ZIKA Virus Disease Symptoms]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa2ab0ee8fa60ba643e

Background

In early 2015, a ZIKA Virus (ZIKV) infection outbreak was recognized in northeast Brazil, where concerns over its possible links with infant microcephaly have been discussed. Providing a causal link between ZIKV infection and birth defects is still a challenge. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs (sncRNAs) that regulate post-transcriptional gene expression by translational repression, and play important roles in viral pathogenesis and brain development. The potential for flavivirus-mediated miRNA signalling dysfunction in brain-tissue development provides a compelling hypothesis to test the perceived link between ZIKV and microcephaly.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Here, we applied in silico analyses to provide novel insights to understand how Congenital ZIKA Syndrome symptoms may be related to an imbalance in miRNAs function. Moreover, following World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, we have assembled a database to help target investigations of the possible relationship between ZIKV symptoms and miRNA-mediated human gene expression.

Conclusions/Significance

We have computationally predicted both miRNAs encoded by ZIKV able to target genes in the human genome and cellular (human) miRNAs capable of interacting with ZIKV genomes. Our results represent a step forward in the ZIKV studies, providing new insights to support research in this field and identify potential targets for therapy.

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<![CDATA[A Cost-Effectiveness Tool for Informing Policies on Zika Virus Control]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db05ab0ee8fa60bc7ed8

Background

As Zika virus continues to spread, decisions regarding resource allocations to control the outbreak underscore the need for a tool to weigh policies according to their cost and the health burden they could avert. For example, to combat the current Zika outbreak the US President requested the allocation of $1.8 billion from Congress in February 2016.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Illustrated through an interactive tool, we evaluated how the number of Zika cases averted, the period during pregnancy in which Zika infection poses a risk of microcephaly, and probabilities of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) impact the cost at which an intervention is cost-effective. From Northeast Brazilian microcephaly incidence data, we estimated the probability of microcephaly in infants born to Zika-infected women (0.49% to 2.10%). We also estimated the probability of GBS arising from Zika infections in Brazil (0.02% to 0.06%) and Colombia (0.08%). We calculated that each microcephaly and GBS case incurs the loss of 29.95 DALYs and 1.25 DALYs per case, as well as direct medical costs for Latin America and the Caribbean of $91,102 and $28,818, respectively. We demonstrated the utility of our cost-effectiveness tool with examples evaluating funding commitments by Costa Rica and Brazil, the US presidential proposal, and the novel approach of genetically modified mosquitoes. Our analyses indicate that the commitments and the proposal are likely to be cost-effective, whereas the cost-effectiveness of genetically modified mosquitoes depends on the country of implementation.

Conclusions/Significance

Current estimates from our tool suggest that the health burden from microcephaly and GBS warrants substantial expenditures focused on Zika virus control. Our results justify the funding committed in Costa Rica and Brazil and many aspects of the budget outlined in the US president’s proposal. As data continue to be collected, new parameter estimates can be customized in real-time within our user-friendly tool to provide updated estimates on cost-effectiveness of interventions and inform policy decisions in country-specific settings.

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