Original Publication Date: 10 January, 2018
Publication / Source: Future Virology
Authors: Smith DR & Bocan TM
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that has emerged since 2007 causing human outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Oceania and most recently in the Americas. Severe disease is characterized by neurological complications, which in adults include Guillain–Barré syndrome or in a few cases, encephalopathy, meningoencephalitis and acute myelitis. In addition, Zika virus infection in pregnant women is a major global public health concern due to its link to congenital abnormalities including microcephaly, spontaneous abortion and intrauterine growth restriction.
An in vivo imaging approach is particularly advantageous to study progression of Zika-induced neurological sequelae because the development of neuropathology and congenital defects is a dynamic process. While molecular imaging has been used to characterize disease progression and evaluate drugs in the areas of neuroscience, cardiovascular, inflammation and oncology, application of imaging in infectious disease is limited. In this editorial, the authors assess the insights that could be provided by PET imaging in evaluating and understanding the progression of neurological sequale in Zika virus.
“Molecular imaging technology provides a novel approach to evaluate the efficacy of medical countermeasures. For example, molecular imaging by PET can be used to dynamically assess the efficacy of a drug or vaccine’s effect on virus replication, tissue distribution and host response.”