Influenza A viruses commonly cause pancreatitis in naturally and experimentally infected animals. In this study, we report the results of in vivo investigations carried out to establish whether influenza virus infection could cause metabolic disorders linked to pancreatic infection. In addition, in vitro tests in human pancreatic islets and in human pancreatic cell lines were performed to evaluate viral growth and cell damage. Infection of an avian model with two low-pathogenicity avian influenza isolates caused pancreatic damage resulting in hyperlipasemia in over 50% of subjects, which evolved into hyperglycemia and subsequently diabetes. Histopathology of the pancreas showed signs of an acute infection resulting in severe fibrosis and disruption of the structure of the organ. Influenza virus nucleoprotein was detected by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in the acinar tissue. Human seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 viruses and avian H7N1 and H7N3 influenza virus isolates were able to infect a selection of human pancreatic cell lines. Human viruses were also shown to be able to infect human pancreatic islets. In situ hybridization assays indicated that viral nucleoprotein could be detected in beta cells. The cytokine activation profile indicated a significant increase of MIG/CXCL9, IP-10/CXCL10, RANTES/CCL5, MIP1b/CCL4, Groa/CXCL1, interleukin 8 (IL-8)/CXCL8, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and IL-6. Our findings indicate that influenza virus infection may play a role as a causative agent of pancreatitis and diabetes in humans and other mammals.
Influenza viruses of gallinaceous poultry and wild aquatic birds usually have distinguishable receptor-binding properties. Here we used a panel of synthetic sialylglycopolymers and solid-phase receptor-binding assays to characterize receptor-binding profiles of about 70 H7 influenza viruses isolated from aquatic birds, land-based poultry, and horses in Eurasia and America. Unlike typical duck influenza viruses with non-H7 hemagglutinin (HA), all avian H7 influenza viruses, irrespective of the host species, displayed a poultry-virus-like binding specificity, i.e., preferential binding to sulfated oligosaccharides Neu5Acα2-3Galβ1-4(6-O-HSO3)GlcNAc and Neu5Acα2-3Galβ1-4(Fucα1-3)(6-O-HSO3)GlcNAc. This phenotype correlated with the unique amino acid sequence of the amino acid 185 to 189 loop of H7 HA and seemed to be dependent on ionic interactions between the sulfate group of the receptor and Lys193 and on the lack of sterical clashes between the fucose residue and Gln222. Many North American and Eurasian H7 influenza viruses displayed weak but detectable binding to the human-type receptor moiety Neu5Acα2-6Galβ1-4GlcNAc, highlighting the potential of H7 influenza viruses for avian-to-human transmission. Equine H7 influenza viruses differed from other viruses by preferential binding to the N-glycolyl form of sialic acid. Our data suggest that the receptor-binding site of contemporary H7 influenza viruses in aquatic and terrestrial birds was formed after the introduction of their common precursor from ducks to a new host, presumably, gallinaceous poultry. The uniformity of the receptor-binding profile of H7 influenza viruses in various wild and domestic birds indicates that there is no strong receptor-mediated host range restriction in birds on viruses with this HA subtype. This notion agrees with repeated interspecies transmission of H7 influenza viruses from aquatic birds to poultry.
H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus has been endemic in poultry in Egypt since 2008, notwithstanding the implementation of mass vaccination and culling of infected birds. Extensive circulation of the virus has resulted in a progressive genetic evolution and an antigenic drift. In poultry, the occurrence of antigenic drift in avian influenza viruses is less well documented and the mechanisms remain to be clarified. To test the hypothesis that H5N1 antigenic drift is driven by mechanisms similar to type A influenza viruses in humans, we generated reassortant viruses, by reverse genetics, that harbored molecular changes identified in genetically divergent viruses circulating in the vaccinated population. Parental and reassortant phenotype viruses were antigenically analyzed by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test and microneutralization (MN) assay. The results of the study indicate that the antigenic drift of H5N1 in poultry is driven by multiple mutations primarily occurring in major antigenic sites at the receptor binding subdomain, similarly to what has been described for human influenza H1 and H3 subtype viruses.
Avian influenza viruses of the H9N2 subtype have seriously affected the poultry industry of the Far and Middle East since the mid-1990s and are considered one of the most likely candidates to cause a new influenza pandemic in humans. To understand the genesis and epidemiology of these viruses, we investigated the spatial and evolutionary dynamics of complete genome sequences of H9N2 viruses circulating in nine Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries from 1998 to 2010. We identified four distinct and cocirculating groups (A, B, C, and D), each of which has undergone widespread inter- and intrasubtype reassortments, leading to the generation of viruses with unknown biological properties. Our analysis also suggested that eastern Asia served as the major source for H9N2 gene segments in the Middle East and Central Asia and that in this geographic region within-country evolution played a more important role in shaping viral genetic diversity than migration between countries. The genetic variability identified among the H9N2 viruses was associated with specific amino acid substitutions that are believed to result in increased transmissibility in mammals, as well as resistance to antiviral drugs. Our study highlights the need to constantly monitor the evolution of H9N2 viruses in poultry to better understand the potential risk to human health posed by these viruses.
The Non-structural 1 (NS1) protein of avian influenza (AI) viruses is important for pathogenicity. Here, we identify a previously unrecognized tandem PDZ-ligand (TPL) domain in the extreme carboxy terminus of NS1 proteins from a subset of globally circulating AI viruses. By using protein arrays we have identified several human PDZ-cellular ligands of this novel domain, one of which is the RIL protein, a known regulator of the cellular tyrosine kinase Src. We found that the AI NS1 proteins bind and stimulate human Src tyrosine kinase, through their carboxy terminal Src homology type 3-binding (SHB) domain. The physical interaction between NS1 and Src and the ability of AI viruses to modulate the phosphorylation status of Src during the infection, were found to be influenced by the TPL arrangement. These results indicate the potential for novel host-pathogen interactions mediated by the TPL and SHB domains of AI NS1 protein.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of the H5 and H7 subtype pose a major public health threat due to their capacity to cross the species barrier and infect mammals, for example dogs, cats and humans. In the present study we tested the capacity of selected H7 and H5 HPAI viruses to infect and to be transmitted from infected BALB/c mice to contact sentinels. Previous experiments have shown that viruses belonging to both H5 and H7 subtypes replicate in the respiratory tract and central nervous system of experimentally infected mice. In this study we show that selected H7N1 and H5N1 HPAI viruses can be transmitted from mouse-to-mouse by direct contact, and that in experimentally infected animals they exhibit a different pattern of replication and transmission. Our results can be considered as a starting point for transmission experiments involving other influenza A viruses with α 2-3 receptor affinity in order to better understand the viral factors influencing transmissibility of these viruses in selected mammalian species.
highly pathogenic avian influenza virus; mouse; transmission; H7; H5
Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of subtype H7N1 that emerged during an outbreak in 1999 and 2000 in Italy differ from their low-pathogenicity precursor viruses by changes in several genes, including three mutations in the NS1 protein. Two of them involve amino acid exchanges located within or closely adjacent to the nuclear export signal of NS1. The third mutation resulted in a new stop codon and thereby a C-terminal truncation of the NS1 protein of the highly pathogenic viruses. To find out whether these mutations contribute to the phenotypic differences between the highly pathogenic and low pathogenic viruses, we generated recombinants of the highly pathogenic A/ostrich/Italy/984/00 strain that contained the nuclear export signal and/or the extended C terminus of NS1 of a low pathogenic virus (A/chicken/Italy/1082/99). Using these recombinants we could demonstrate that replication rate and spread of infection in chicken fibroblast cultures, as well as infectivity for chicken embryos is reduced, whereas the mean death time for chicken embryos is increased, when the highly pathogenic virus acquires the NS1 motifs of the low pathogenic virus. Analysis of beta interferon transcription in chicken fibroblasts infected with the recombinants revealed that the mutations observed in the nuclear export signal of the highly pathogenic viruses were responsible for the enhanced interferon antagonism of these viruses. Cell fractionation and immunofluorescence studies in chicken fibroblasts showed that the nuclear export signal of the highly pathogenic viruses is responsible for cytoplasmic accumulation of NS1, whereas the C-terminal truncation promotes transport into the nucleoli. Comparative analysis in human A549 cells indicated that intracellular distribution of NS1 is host specific. Taken together, these observations support the concept that compartmentalization of NS1 within the cell contributes to the pathogenicity of avian influenza viruses.
Rabies is a fatal zoonosis caused by a nonsegmented negative-strand RNA virus, namely, rabies virus (RABV). Apart from RABV, at least 10 additional species are known as rabies-related lyssaviruses (RRVs), and some of them are responsible for occasional spillovers into humans. More lyssaviruses have also been detected recently in different bat ecosystems, thanks to the application of molecular diagnostic methods. Due to the variety of the members of the genus Lyssavirus, there is the necessity to develop a reliable molecular assay for rabies diagnosis able to detect and differentiate among the existing rabies and rabies-related viruses. In the present study, a pyrosequencing protocol targeting the 3′ terminus of the nucleoprotein (N) gene was applied for the rapid characterization of lyssaviruses. Correct identification of species was achieved for each sample tested. Results from the pyrosequencing assay were also confirmed by those obtained using the Sanger sequencing method. A pan-lyssavirus one-step reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was developed within the framework of the pyrosequencing procedure. The sensitivity (Se) of the one-step RT-PCR assay was determined by using in vitro-transcribed RNA and serial dilutions of titrated viruses. The assay demonstrated high analytical and relative specificity (Sp) (98.94%) and sensitivity (99.71%). To date, this is the first case in which pyrosequencing has been applied for lyssavirus identification using a cheaper diagnostic approach than the one for all the other protocols for rapid typing that we are acquainted with. Results from this study indicate that this procedure is suitable for lyssavirus detection in samples of both human and animal origin.
pandemic (H1N1) 2009; influenza A virus; viruses; dogs; Italy; letter
Highly pathogenic A/H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) viruses have seriously affected the Nigerian poultry industry since early 2006. Previous studies have identified multiple introductions of the virus into Nigeria and several reassortment events between cocirculating lineages. To determine the spatial, evolutionary, and population dynamics of the multiple H5N1 lineages cocirculating in Nigeria, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis of whole-genome sequences from 106 HPAI H5N1 viruses isolated between 2006 and 2008 and representing all 25 Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) reporting outbreaks. We identified a major new subclade in Nigeria that is phylogenetically distinguishable from all previously identified sublineages, as well as two novel reassortment events. A detailed analysis of viral phylogeography identified two major source populations for the HPAI H5N1 virus in Nigeria, one in a major commercial poultry area (southwest region) and one in northern Nigeria, where contact between wild birds and backyard poultry is frequent. These findings suggested that migratory birds from Eastern Europe or Russia may serve an important role in the introduction of HPAI H5N1 viruses into Nigeria, although virus spread through the movement of poultry and poultry products cannot be excluded. Our study provides new insight into the genesis and evolution of H5N1 influenza viruses in Nigeria and has important implications for targeting surveillance efforts to rapidly identify the spread of the virus into and within Nigeria.
Influenza; genetics; viruses; zoonoses; globalization; global health; One Health; expedited; letter
In the present study we collected 177 serum samples from ostriches (Struthio camelus) infected experimentally with A/ostrich/South Africa/Middleton/2004 (H5N2) highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. We tested these samples using the haemagglutination inhibition (HI) test, the agar gel immunodiffusion test and three enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. We considered the HI test, with homologous antigen and including pre-treatment of sera with 10% chicken red blood cells, as the gold standard. Detectable specific antibodies appeared on day 7 post-infection and persisted until the termination of the experiment. The relative sensitivity and specificity of the tests under evaluation and Cohen's K value were calculated. The results reported herein could be of assistance to decision-makers in drafting guidelines for the definition of the health status of ostriches and for trade purposes.
Since its emergence in South East Asia in 2003, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) A/H5N1 has reportedly caused outbreaks in poultry and/or wild birds in 62 countries, of which 24 were in Europe. Interestingly, out of the many genetic clades circulating in Asia, the westward spread of HPAI A/H5N1 to Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa was dominated by one single clade, namely clade 2.2. In this paper, we review and update through phylogenetic and gene migrational analysis the information concerning the evolution and the molecular epidemiology of HPAI A/H5N1 on the European continent.
Europe; H5N1; avian influenza
The Non-Structural 1 (NS1) protein is a multifactorial protein of type A influenza viruses that plays an important role in the virulence of the virus. A large amount of what we know about this protein has been obtained from studies using human influenza isolates and, consequently, the human NS1 protein. The current global interest in avian influenza, however, has highlighted a number of sequence and functional differences between the human and avian NS1. This review discusses these differences in addition to describing potential uses of NS1 in the management and control of avian influenza outbreaks.
Non-Structural 1 protein; carboxy terminal; avian influenza; vaccination; DIVA
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus A/H5N1 was first officially reported in Africa in early 2006. Since the first outbreak in Nigeria, this virus spread rapidly to other African countries. From its emergence to early 2008, 11 African countries experienced A/H5N1 outbreaks in poultry and human cases were also reported in three of these countries. At present, little is known of the epidemiology and molecular evolution of A/H5N1 viruses in Africa. We have generated 494 full gene sequences from 67 African isolates and applied molecular analysis tools to a total of 1,152 A/H5N1 sequences obtained from viruses isolated in Africa, Europe and the Middle East between 2006 and early 2008. Detailed phylogenetic analyses of the 8 gene viral segments confirmed that 3 distinct sublineages were introduced, which have persisted and spread across the continent over this 2-year period. Additionally, our molecular epidemiological studies highlighted the association between genetic clustering and area of origin in a majority of cases. Molecular signatures unique to strains isolated in selected areas also gave us a clearer picture of the spread of A/H5N1 viruses across the continent. Mutations described as typical of human influenza viruses in the genes coding for internal proteins or associated with host adaptation and increased resistance to antiviral drugs have also been detected in the genes coding for transmembrane proteins. These findings raise concern for the possible human health risk presented by viruses with these genetic properties and highlight the need for increased efforts to monitor the evolution of A/H5N1 viruses across the African continent. They further stress how imperative it is to implement sustainable control strategies to improve animal and public health at a global level.
Genetic characterization of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (H5N1) isolated in July 2008 in Nigeria indicates that a distinct genotype, never before detected in Africa, reached the continent. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the viruses are genetically closely related to European and Middle Eastern influenza A (H5N1) isolates detected in 2007.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus; H5N1; Nigeria; phylogenetic analysis; dispatch
Since early 2007, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has experienced several highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreaks in the falconry and poultry sectors. The public health threat associated with peculiar husbandry systems, requiring close contact between humans and birds of prey, highlights the need of an improved understanding of the epidemiology and of the viral characteristics of H5N1 viruses circulating in the region. Here we report molecular and phylogenetic analyses of H5N1 viruses isolated in the KSA in 2007 in distinct compartments of avian husbandry. From the results of our investigation it appears that two separate introductions into the different sectors occurred. The identification of specific amino acid mutations, which are described as genetic signatures of human influenza A viruses or known to confer resistance to antiviral drugs, raises concerns for the possible human health implications of the KSA H5N1 viruses.
Among the different hemagglutinin (HA) subtypes of avian influenza (AI) viruses, H5, H7, and H9 are of major interest because of the serious consequences for the poultry industry and the increasing frequency of direct transmission of these viruses to humans. The availability of new tools to rapidly detect and subtype the influenza viruses can enable the immediate application of measures to prevent the widespread transmission of the infection. In this study, a novel one-step real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RRT-PCR) was developed to detect simultaneously the H5, H7, and H9 subtypes of AI viruses from clinical samples of avian origin. The sensitivity of the RRT-PCR assay was determined by using in vitro-transcribed RNA and 10-fold serial dilutions of titrated AI viruses. High sensitivity levels were obtained, with limits of detection ranging from 101 to 103 RNA copies and from 101 50% egg infectious dose (EID50)/100 μl to 102.74 EID50/100 μl with titrated viruses. Excellent results were achieved in the intra- and interassay variability tests. The comparison of the results with those obtained from the analysis of 725 avian samples by means of the reference method (virus isolation [VI]) showed a high level of agreement. To date, this is the first real-time PCR protocol available for the simultaneous detection of AI viruses belonging to subtypes H5, H7, and H9, and the results obtained indicate that this method is suitable as a routine laboratory test for the rapid detection and differentiation of the three most-important AI virus subtypes in samples of avian origin.
The potential existence of a wild bird reservoir for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been recently questioned by the spread and the persisting circulation of H5N1 HPAI viruses, responsible for concurrent outbreaks in migratory and domestic birds over Asia, Europe, and Africa. During a large-scale surveillance programme over Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, we detected avian influenza viruses of H5N2 subtype with a highly pathogenic (HP) viral genotype in healthy birds of two wild waterfowl species sampled in Nigeria. We monitored the survival and regional movements of one of the infected birds through satellite telemetry, providing a rare evidence of a non-lethal natural infection by an HP viral genotype in wild birds. Phylogenetic analysis of the H5N2 viruses revealed close genetic relationships with H5 viruses of low pathogenicity circulating in Eurasian wild and domestic ducks. In addition, genetic analysis did not reveal known gallinaceous poultry adaptive mutations, suggesting that the emergence of HP strains could have taken place in either wild or domestic ducks or in non-gallinaceous species. The presence of coexisting but genetically distinguishable avian influenza viruses with an HP viral genotype in two cohabiting species of wild waterfowl, with evidence of non-lethal infection at least in one species and without evidence of prior extensive circulation of the virus in domestic poultry, suggest that some strains with a potential high pathogenicity for poultry could be maintained in a community of wild waterfowl.
Until recently, the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses responsible for high mortality in some domestic poultry were considered not to have a wild bird reservoir, but to emerge in domestic poultry populations from low pathogenic viruses perpetuated in wild waterbirds. The rapid spread of H5N1 HPAI virus in 2005–2006, with concurrent outbreaks reported in both domestic and wild birds over Asia, Europe, and Africa, has raised concerns about the potential role of migratory birds in the epidemiology of the HPAI infection. Wild birds were sampled in Africa and tested by molecular and virological methods in an attempt to trace the circulation of HPAI viruses. In addition, some of these wild birds were equipped with satellite transmitters to track their local and migratory movements in relation to the potential spread of avian diseases. Avian influenza viruses (H5N2) were detected in wild waterfowl in Nigeria, and were subsequently characterized as highly pathogenic by molecular sequencing (HPAI viral genotype). Movements of one infected bird tracked by satellite telemetry revealed that it survived infection by an HP viral genotype. This result constitutes a rare finding of infection by an AIV with an HPAI viral genotype in healthy wild birds.
H9N2 avian influenza A viruses are endemic in poultry of many Eurasian countries and have caused repeated human infections in Asia since 1998. To evaluate the potential threat of H9N2 viruses to humans, we investigated the replication and transmission efficiency of H9N2 viruses in the ferret model. Five wild-type (WT) H9N2 viruses, isolated from different avian species from 1988 through 2003, were tested in vivo and found to replicate in ferrets. However these viruses achieved mild peak viral titers in nasal washes when compared to those observed with a human H3N2 virus. Two of these H9N2 viruses transmitted to direct contact ferrets, however no aerosol transmission was detected in the virus displaying the most efficient direct contact transmission. A leucine (Leu) residue at amino acid position 226 in the hemagglutinin (HA) receptor-binding site (RBS), responsible for human virus-like receptor specificity, was found to be important for the transmission of the H9N2 viruses in ferrets. In addition, an H9N2 avian-human reassortant virus, which contains the surface glycoprotein genes from an H9N2 virus and the six internal genes of a human H3N2 virus, showed enhanced replication and efficient transmission to direct contacts. Although no aerosol transmission was observed, the virus replicated in multiple respiratory tissues and induced clinical signs similar to those observed with the parental human H3N2 virus. Our results suggest that the establishment and prevalence of H9N2 viruses in poultry pose a significant threat for humans.
To better understand the ecology and epidemiology of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in its transcontinental spread, we sequenced and analyzed the complete genomes of 36 recent influenza A (H5N1) viruses collected from birds in Europe, northern Africa, and southeastern Asia. These sequences, among the first complete genomes of influenza (H5N1) viruses outside Asia, clearly depict the lineages now infecting wild and domestic birds in Europe and Africa and show the relationships among these isolates and other strains affecting both birds and humans. The isolates fall into 3 distinct lineages, 1 of which contains all known non-Asian isolates. This new Euro-African lineage, which was the cause of several recent (2006) fatal human infections in Egypt and Iraq, has been introduced at least 3 times into the European-African region and has split into 3 distinct, independently evolving sublineages. One isolate provides evidence that 2 of these sublineages have recently reassorted.
Reassortant Influenza Virus (H5N1) in Poultry, Nigeria, 2007
Genetic characterization of a selection of influenza virus (H5N1) samples, circulating in 8 Nigerian states over a 39-day period in early 2007, indicates that a new reassortant strain is present in 7 of the 8 states. Our study reports an entirely different influenza virus (H5N1) reassortant becoming predominant and widespread in poultry.
H5N1; avian influenza; Nigeria; reassortant; phylogenetic analysis; dispatch