Viral isolation is desirable for many reasons, including development of diagnostic assays and reference materials, and for virology basic research. Zika virus (ZIKV) isolation from clinical samples is challenging, but isolates are known to infect various cell lines. Here, we evaluated suitability of Vero, C6/36 and JEG-3 as host cells, for direct isolation of ZIKV from human plasma. We also assessed the use of primary monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) culture to enhance ZIKV isolation from human plasma samples followed by virus expansion in Vero, C6/36 and JEG-3 cultures. Direct inoculation of cell lines with 42 ZIKV-RNA positive samples resulted in isolation rates of 9.52% (4/42) in Vero and C6/36, and of 7.14% (3/42) in JEG-3 cells. Inoculation of plasma in MDMs followed by supernatant testing by TaqMan RT-PCR, resulted in 33/42 (78.57%) ZIKV-RNA-positive supernatants, which expansion in cell lines increased isolation rates to 24.24% (8/33) in Vero and to 27.27% (9/33) in C6/36 and JEG-3 regardless of the presence of ZIKV-antibody. Isolates generated in JEG-3 cells were also produced in Vero and C6/36 with similar viral titers. These results suggest that efficiency of ZIKV isolation from human plasma can be enhanced when MDM culture is used before viral expansion in cell lines.
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