Neurocognitive impact of Zika virus infection in adult rhesus macaques

Denise C. Hsu*, Kesara Chumpolkulwong, Michael J. Corley, Taweewun Hunsawong, Dutsadee Inthawong, Alexandra Schuetz, Rawiwan Imerbsin, Decha Silsorn, Panupat Nadee, Jumpol Sopanaporn, Yuwadee Phuang-Ngern, Chonticha Klungthong, Matthew Reed, Stefan Fernandez, Lishomwa C. Ndhlovu, Robert Paul, Luis Lugo-Roman, Nelson L. Michael, Kayvon Modjarrad, Sandhya Vasan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-transmitted flavivirus that affects many regions of the world. Infection, in utero, causes microcephaly and later developmental and neurologic impairments. The impact of ZIKV infection on neurocognition in adults has not been well described. The objective of the study was to assess the neurocognitive impact of ZIKV infection in adult rhesus macaques. Methods: Neurocognitive assessments were performed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) via a touch screen and modified Brinkman Board before and after subcutaneous ZIKV inoculation. Immune activation markers were measured in the blood and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) by multiplex assay and flow cytometry. Results: All animals (N = 8) had detectable ZIKV RNA in plasma at day 1 post-inoculation (PI) that peaked at day 2 PI (median 5.9, IQR 5.6–6.2 log10 genome equivalents/mL). In all eight animals, ZIKV RNA became undetectable in plasma by day 14 PI, but persisted in lymphoid tissues. ZIKV RNA was not detected in the CSF supernatant at days 4, 8, 14 and 28 PI but was detected in the brain of 2 animals at days 8 and 28 PI. Elevations in markers of immune activation in the blood and CSF were accompanied by a reduction in accuracy and reaction speed on the CANTAB in the majority of animals. Conclusions: The co-occurrence of systemic and CSF immune perturbations and neurocognitive impairment establishes this model as useful for studying the impact of neuroinflammation on neurobehavior in rhesus macaques, as it pertains to ZIKV infection and potentially other pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Neuro-inflammation
  • Neurobehavior
  • Neurocognition
  • Zika virus


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