Herpes simplex virus type 1 may disrupt fetal brain development during pregnancy

The study was released in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

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Chinese researchers shed new light on how herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) may disrupt fetal brain development during pregnancy, according to their new findings released in PLOS Pathogens.

HSV-1 infection is known to increase the risk of long-term neurological complications, like cognitive dysfunction. In recent studies, researchers have turned to fetal brain development to understand its role in impairing function among pregnant women.

Limitations of existing animal models and also the inability to access fetal human brain tissue, have left researchers hampered on results.

“HSV-1and HSV-2 are the two members of the herpesviridae family,” the co-authors wrote in their findings.

“We generated in vitro neurodevelopmental disorder models including human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-based monolayer neuronal differentiation, three-dimensional (3D) neuroepithelial bud, and 3D cerebral organoid to study fetal brain development and the potential neuropathological effects induced by the HSV-1 infections.”

The findings unveil new evidence that HSV-1 infection could disrupt fetal brain development and may even lead to neurodevelopmental disorders.

“The integrated findings of this study suggest that HSV-1 infection disrupted fetal brain development, including the injured neurogenesis, dysregulated forebrain and hindbrain populations, impaired neuronal differentiation, and abnormal microglial activation,” researchers concluded in their journal article.

“Our strategy opens a new avenue for imitating the neuropathological features of fetal brain development with HSV infection, establishing the causal relationships that link HSV biology with the neurodevelopmental disorder-associated neuropathological changes.”