Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an alphavirus that causes febrile illness punctuated by severe polyarthralgia. After the emergence of CHIKV in the Western Hemisphere, multiple reports of congenital infections were published that documented neurological complications, cardiac defects, respiratory distress, and miscarriage. The Western Hemisphere is endemic to several alphaviruses and whether antigenic cross-reactivity can impact the course of infection has not been explored. Recent advances in biomedical engineering have produced cell co-culture models that replicate the cellular interface at the maternal fetal axis. We employed a trans-well assay to determine if cross-reactive antibodies affected the movement and replication of CHIKV across placental cells and into an embryoid body. The data show that antibodies to Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) significantly reduced CHIKV viral load in embryoid bodies. The data highlight that viral pathogenesis can be cell-specific and that exploiting antigenic cross-reactivity could be an avenue for reducing the impact of congenital CHIKV infections.
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