Strain-dependent activity of Zika virus and exposure history in serological diagnostics

Kelli L. Barr, Erika R. Schwarz, Dhani Prakoso, Kehkashan Imtiaz, Ruiyu Pu, J. Glenn Morris, Erum Khan, Maureen T. Long

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Zika virus (ZIKV) circulates as two separate lineages, with significant genetic variability between strains. Strain-dependent activity has been reported for dengue virus, herpes simplex virus and influenza. Strain-dependent activity of subject specimens to a virus could be an impediment to serological diagnosis and vaccine development. In order to determine whether ZIKV exhibits strain-dependent activity when exposed to antibodies, we measured the neutralizing properties of polyclonal serum and three monoclonal antibodies (ZKA185, 753(3)C10, and 4G2) against three strains of ZIKV (MR−766, PRVABC59, and R103454). Here, MR−766 was inhibited almost 60% less by ZKA185 than PRVABC59 and R103454 (p = 0.008). ZKA185 enhanced dengue 4 infection up to 50% (p = 0.0058). PRVABC59 was not inhibited by mAb 753(3)C10 while MR−766 and R103453 were inhibited up to 90% (p = 0.04 and 0.036, respectively). Patient serum, regardless of exposure history, neutralized MR−766 ~30%−40% better than PRVABC56 or R103454 (p = 0.005−0.00007). The most troubling finding was the significant neutralization of MR−766 by patients with no ZIKV exposure. We also evaluated ZIKV antibody cross reactivity with various flaviviruses and found that more patients developed cross-reactive antibodies to Japanese encephalitis virus than the dengue viruses. The data here show that serological diagnosis of ZIKV is complicated and that qualitative neutralization assays cannot discriminate between flaviviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalTropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cross-reactivity
  • Diagnostics
  • Flavivirus
  • Flavivirus exposure
  • Neutralization
  • Plaque reduction neutralization test
  • Serology
  • Zika virus


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