Image of the Day: Viral Residue
Image of the Day: Viral Residue

Image of the Day: Viral Residue

Genetic material from the chikungunya virus remains in mouse cells after infection and may be linked to later joint pain.

Aug 30, 2019
Nicoletta Lanese

ABOVE: In this frozen section of a whole mouse ankle at 28 days post infection, the cells stained red harbor chikungunya RNA and survive the disease. It is thought that this persistent RNA contributes to chronic arthritis.
A.R. YOUNG ET AL. (2019)

Chikungunya virus, spread by mosquitoes, lingers in surviving mouse cells long after infection and may contribute to chronic arthritis down the line, researchers reported yesterday (August 29) in PLOS Pathogens

Anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent of people infected with chikungunya develop persistent joint pain after initially contracting the illness, though previously, scientists have failed to detect the replicating virus during its chronic stage. Using a new method to permanently mark mouse cells infected with the virus, the research team found that surviving skin and muscle cells hoard chikungunya RNA at least 112 days after inoculation. The authors aim to use this new reporter system to further study the disease’s chronic stage, and eventually develop treatments and preventive measures for the associated joint pain.  

A.R. Young et al., “Dermal and muscle fibroblasts and skeletal myofibers survive chikungunya virus infection and harbor persistent RNA,” 15(8):e1007993, PLOS Pathog, 2019. 

Nicoletta Lanese is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at nlanese@the-scientist.com.