These findings suggest that ZIKV NS1 contributes to placental dysfunction via modulation of glycosaminoglycans on trophoblasts and chorionic villi, resulting in increased permeability of human placentas.
We examined the effect of ZIKV NS1 on expression and release of heparan sulfate (HS), hyaluronic acid (HA), and sialic acid (Sia) on human trophoblast cell lines and anchoring villous explants from first-trimester placentas infected with ZIKV ex vivo. We measured changes in permeability in trophoblasts and stromal cores using a dextran-based fluorescence assay and changes in HA receptor expression using immunofluorescent microscopy.
During pregnancy, the Zika flavivirus (ZIKV) infects human placentas, inducing defects in the developing fetus. The flavivirus nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) alters glycosaminoglycans on the endothelium, causing hyperpermeability in vitro and vascular leakage in vivo in a tissue-dependent manner. The contribution of ZIKV NS1 to placental dysfunction during ZIKV infection remains unknown.
ZIKV NS1 in the presence and absence of ZIKV increased the permeability of anchoring villous explants. ZIKV NS1 induced shedding of HA and HS and altered expression of CD44 and LYVE-1 HA receptors on stromal fibroblasts and Hofbauer macrophages in villous cores. Hyaluronidase was also stimulated in NS1-treated trophoblasts.