Lassa virus (LASV) is the causative agent of Lassa Fever and is responsible for several hundred thousand infections and thousands of deaths annually in West Africa. LASV and the non-pathogenic Mopeia virus (MOPV) are both rodent-borne African arenaviruses. A live attenuated reassortant of MOPV and LASV, designated ML29, protects rodents and primates from LASV challenge and appears to be more attenuated than MOPV. To gain better insight into LASV-induced pathology and mechanism of attenuation we performed gene expression profiling in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) exposed to LASV and the vaccine candidate ML29. PBMC from healthy human subjects were exposed to either LASV or ML29. Although most PBMC are non-permissive for virus replication, they remain susceptible to signal transduction by virus particles. Total RNA was extracted and global gene expression was evaluated during the first 24 hours using high-density microarrays. Results were validated using RT-PCR, flow cytometry and ELISA. LASV and ML29 elicited differential expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISG), as well as genes involved in apoptosis, NF-kB signaling and the coagulation pathways. These genes could eventually serve as biomarkers to predict disease outcomes. The remarkable differential expression of thrombomodulin, a key regulator of inflammation and coagulation, suggests its involvement with vascular abnormalities and mortality in Lassa fever disease.
The virulent Lassa fever virus (LASV) and the non-pathogenic Mopeia virus (MOPV) infect rodents and, incidentally, people in West Africa. The mechanism of LASV damage in human beings is unclear. There is no licensed Lassa fever vaccine and therapeutic intervention is usually too late. The ML29 vaccine candidate derived from Lassa and Mopeia viruses protects rodents and primates from Lassa fever disease. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy human subjects were exposed to either LASV or ML29 in order to identify early cellular responses that could be attributed to the difference in virulence between the two viruses. Differential expression of interferon-stimulated genes as well as coagulation-related genes could lead to an explanation for Lassa fever pathogenesis and indicate protective treatments for Lassa fever disease.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging mosquito-borne Alphavirus that causes a clinical disease involving fever, myalgia, nausea and rash. The distinguishing feature of CHIKV infection is the severe debilitating poly-arthralgia that may persist for several months after viral clearance. Since its re-emergence in 2004, CHIKV has spread from the Indian Ocean region to new locations including metropolitan Europe, Japan, and even the United States. The risk of importing CHIKV to new areas of the world is increasing due to high levels of viremia in infected individuals as well as the recent adaptation of the virus to the mosquito species Aedes albopictus. CHIKV re-emergence is also associated with new clinical complications including severe morbidity and, for the first time, mortality. In this study, we characterized disease progression and host immune responses in adult and aged Rhesus macaques infected with either the recent CHIKV outbreak strain La Reunion (LR) or the West African strain 37997. Our results indicate that following intravenous infection and regardless of the virus used, Rhesus macaques become viremic between days 1–5 post infection. While adult animals are able to control viral infection, aged animals show persistent virus in the spleen. Virus-specific T cell responses in the aged animals were reduced compared to adult animals and the B cell responses were also delayed and reduced in aged animals. Interestingly, regardless of age, T cell and antibody responses were more robust in animals infected with LR compared to 37997 CHIKV strain. Taken together these data suggest that the reduced immune responses in the aged animals promotes long-term virus persistence in CHIKV-LR infected Rhesus monkeys.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging Alphavirus that has caused recent massive outbreaks in the Indian Ocean region. In addition, outbreaks have been documented in Europe and elsewhere in the world, initiated by infected travelers returning to their homelands. The recent outbreak strains possess extended vector range and as such, raise the potential of CHIKV outbreaks in the Southeastern parts of the United States. In this study, we examined CHIKV immunity in adult and aged Rhesus macaques following infection with two different CHIKV strains (recent outbreak strain CHIKV-LR and a West African Strain CHIKV-37997). CHIKV-LR causes persistent infection in the aged animals and replicates, on average, to higher levels than CHIKV-37997. Irrespective of the viral strain used, aged animals had delayed and/or reduced immunity compared to adult animals. Our data support the clinical findings of CHIKV susceptibility in vulnerable populations including the aged and provide mechanistic evidence that an effective immune response directed against the virus is required for preventing persistent CHIKV infection.
Lassa virus (LASV) is a significant human pathogen that is endemic to several countries in West Africa. Infection with LASV leads to the development of hemorrhagic fever in a significant number of cases, and it is estimated that thousands die each year from the disease. Little is known about the complex immune mechanisms governing the response to LASV or the genetic determinants of susceptibility and resistance to infection. In the study presented here, we have used a whole-genome, microarray-based approach to determine the temporal host response in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of non-human primates (NHP) following aerosol exposure to LASV. Sequential sampling over the entire disease course showed that there are strong transcriptional changes of the immune response to LASV exposure, including the early induction of interferon-responsive genes and Toll-like receptor signaling pathways. However, this increase in early innate responses was coupled with a lack of pro-inflammatory cytokine response in LASV exposed NHPs. There was a distinct lack of cytokines such as IL1β and IL23α, while immunosuppressive cytokines such as IL27 and IL6 were upregulated. Comparison of IRF/STAT1-stimulated gene expression with the viral load in LASV exposed NHPs suggests that mRNA expression significantly precedes viremia, and thus might be used for early diagnostics of the disease. Our results provide a transcriptomic survey of the circulating immune response to hemorrhagic LASV exposure and provide a foundation for biomarker identification to allow clinical diagnosis of LASV infection through analysis of the host response.
Lassa virus (LASV), a member of the Arenaviridae family, is a viral hemorrhagic fever causing virus endemic to several countries in West Africa with a history of sporadic importation into the United States. It has been characterized as a Category A agent, and despite the significant public health issues posed by LASV and the potential biodefense risks, little is known about the immune response to the virus. In the study presented here, we have taken an unbiased genomics approach to map the temporal host response in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of non-human primates (NHP) exposed to LASV. Gene expression patterns over the entire disease course showed that there are strong transcriptional changes of the immune response to LASV exposure, including the upregulation of Toll-like receptor signaling pathways and innate antiviral transcription factors. However, there was a lack of pro-inflammatory cytokine response in LASV exposed NHPs similar to what is seen in human disease. Our data suggests that LASV induces negative regulation of immunological events, leading to an inefficient adaptive immune response as observed in LASV-infected human patients. Our results provide a picture of the host's circulating immune response to hemorrhagic LASV exposure and demonstrate that gene expression patterns correlate with specific stages of disease progression.
In the 1990s, Hendra virus and Nipah virus (NiV), two closely related and previously unrecognized paramyxoviruses that cause severe disease and death in humans and a variety of animals, were discovered in Australia and Malaysia, respectively. Outbreaks of disease have occurred nearly every year since NiV was first discovered, with case fatality ranging from 10 to 100%. In the African green monkey (AGM), NiV causes a severe lethal respiratory and/or neurological disease that essentially mirrors fatal human disease. Thus, the AGM represents a reliable disease model for vaccine and therapeutic efficacy testing. We show that vaccination of AGMs with a recombinant subunit vaccine based on the henipavirus attachment G glycoprotein affords complete protection against subsequent NiV infection with no evidence of clinical disease, virus replication, or pathology observed in any challenged subjects. Success of the recombinant subunit vaccine in nonhuman primates provides crucial data in supporting its further preclinical development for potential human use.
Nipah virus is a zoonotic pathogen that causes severe disease in humans. The mechanisms of pathogenesis are not well described. The first Nipah virus outbreak occurred in Malaysia, where human disease had a strong neurological component. Subsequent outbreaks have occurred in Bangladesh and India and transmission and disease processes in these outbreaks appear to be different from those of the Malaysian outbreak. Until this point, virtually all Nipah virus studies in vitro and in vivo, including vaccine and pathogenesis studies, have utilized a virus isolate from the original Malaysian outbreak (NiV-M). To investigate potential differences between NiV-M and a Nipah virus isolate from Bangladesh (NiV-B), we compared NiV-M and NiV-B infection in vitro and in vivo. In hamster kidney cells, NiV-M-infection resulted in extensive syncytia formation and cytopathic effects, whereas NiV-B-infection resulted in little to no morphological changes. In vivo, NiV-M-infected Syrian hamsters had accelerated virus replication, pathology and death when compared to NiV-B-infected animals. NiV-M infection also resulted in the activation of host immune response genes at an earlier time point. Pathogenicity was not only a result of direct effects of virus replication, but likely also had an immunopathogenic component. The differences observed between NiV-M and NiV-B pathogeneis in hamsters may relate to differences observed in human cases. Characterization of the hamster model for NiV-B infection allows for further research of the strain of Nipah virus responsible for the more recent outbreaks in humans. This model can be used to study NiV-B pathogenesis, transmission, and countermeasures that could be used to control outbreaks.
Nipah virus causes severe disease in humans and outbreaks have occurred in two geographic regions, Malaysia and Bangladesh, and viruses have been isolated during outbreaks from both of these regions (NiV-M and NiV-B, respectively). The original outbreak of Nipah virus occurred in Malaysia and caused severe encephalitis in humans. All subsequent outbreaks of Nipah virus have occurred in Bangladesh or India and disease has been characterized as having a strong respiratory component. Nipah virus is a public health concern that can cause up to 100% lethality in humans and there is no approved treatment or vaccine. Current research should focus on understanding disease progression and pathogenicity. We compared NiV-M and NiV-B infection and disease progression using the Syrian hamster model. We found that NiV-M is more destructive in cultured hamster cells and has faster onset of cytopathogenicity compared to NiV-B. This is also true in hamsters, where although both viruses are pathogenic and cause a similar disease, pathology caused by NiV-M infection is accelerated. These data show that there is a difference in disease progression between the two strains of Nipah virus and will allow for a more detailed understanding of the events leading to disease caused by these viruses.
Ebola virus (EBOV), family Filoviridae, emerged in 1976 on the African continent. Since then it caused several outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fever in humans with case fatality rates up to 90% and remains a serious Public Health concern and biothreat pathogen. The most pathogenic and best-studied species is Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV). EBOV encodes one viral surface glycoprotein (GP), which is essential for replication, a determinant of pathogenicity and an important immunogen. GP mediates viral entry through interaction with cellular surface molecules, which results in the uptake of virus particles via macropinocytosis. Later in this pathway endosomal acidification activates the cysteine proteases Cathepsin B and L (CatB, CatL), which have been shown to cleave ZEBOV-GP leading to subsequent exposure of the putative receptor-binding and fusion domain and productive infection. We studied the effect of CatB and CatL on in vitro and in vivo replication of EBOV. Similar to previous findings, our results show an effect of CatB, but not CatL, on ZEBOV entry into cultured cells. Interestingly, cell entry by other EBOV species (Bundibugyo, Côte d'Ivoire, Reston and Sudan ebolavirus) was independent of CatB or CatL as was EBOV replication in general. To investigate whether CatB and CatL have a role in vivo during infection, we utilized the mouse model for ZEBOV. Wild-type (control), catB−/− and catL−/− mice were equally susceptible to lethal challenge with mouse-adapted ZEBOV with no difference in virus replication and time to death. In conclusion, our results show that CatB and CatL activity is not required for EBOV replication. Furthermore, EBOV glycoprotein cleavage seems to be mediated by an array of proteases making targeted therapeutic approaches difficult.
It is currently believed that Ebola virus (EBOV) enters cells via macropinocytosis following which, the cysteine proteases cathepsin B and L (CatB, CatL) cleave the viral glycoprotein (GP) allowing exposure of its core receptor-binding and fusion domain thus facilitating subsequent infection. We studied the effect of CatB and CatL on in vitro and in vivo EBOV replication. Our results demonstrate a reduction of Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) entry upon selective inhibition of CatB, but not CatL in cell culture. Interestingly, all other EBOV species enter the cells efficiently when CatB and/or CatL activity is blocked. Moreover, when wild-type (control), catB−/− and catL−/− mice were infected with a lethal dose of mouse-adapted ZEBOV, all animals were equally susceptible to lethal challenge with no difference in virus replication and time to death. Therefore, we conclude that EBOV replication is dispensable of CatB and CatL, and proteolytic processing of GP can also be mediated by other endosomal proteases.
For Ebola virus (EBOV), 4 different species are known: Zaire, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Reston ebolavirus. The newly discovered Bundibugyo ebolavirus has been proposed as a 5th species. So far, no cross-neutralization among EBOV species has been described, aggravating progress toward cross-species protective vaccines. With the use of recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)–based vaccines, guinea pigs could be protected against Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) infection only when immunized with a vector expressing the homologous, but not a heterologous, EBOV glycoprotein (GP). However, infection of guinea pigs with nonadapted wild-type strains of the different species resulted in full protection of all animals against subsequent challenge with guinea pig–adapted ZEBOV, showing that cross-species protection is possible. New vectors were generated that contain EBOV viral protein 40 (VP40) or EBOV nucleoprotein (NP) as a second antigen expressed by the same rVSV vector that encodes the heterologous GP. After applying a 2-dose immunization approach, we observed an improved cross-protection rate, with 5 of 6 guinea pigs surviving the lethal ZEBOV challenge if vaccinated with rVSV-expressing SEBOV-GP and -VP40. Our data demonstrate that cross-protection between the EBOV species can be achieved, although EBOV-GP alone cannot induce the required immune response.
The filoviruses, Marburg virus and Ebola virus, cause severe hemorrhagic fever with a high mortality rate in humans and nonhuman primates. Among the most-promising filovirus vaccines under development is a system based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) that expresses a single filovirus glycoprotein (GP) in place of the VSV glycoprotein (G). Importantly, a single injection of blended rVSV-based filovirus vaccines was shown to completely protect nonhuman primates against Marburg virus and 3 different species of Ebola virus. These rVSV-based vaccines have also shown utility when administered as a postexposure treatment against filovirus infections, and a rVSV-based Ebola virus vaccine was recently used to treat a potential laboratory exposure. Here, we review the history of rVSV-based vaccines and pivotal animal studies showing their utility in combating Ebola and Marburg virus infections.
The recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vector-based monovalent vaccine platform expressing a filovirus glycoprotein has been demonstrated to provide protection from lethal challenge with Ebola (EBOV) and Marburg (MARV) viruses both prophylactically and after exposure. This platform provides protection between heterologous strains within a species; however, protection from lethal challenge between species has been largely unsuccessful. To determine whether the rVSV-EBOV vaccines have the potential to provide protection against a newly emerging, phylogenetically related species, cynomolgus macaques were vaccinated with an rVSV vaccine expressing either the glycoprotein of Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) or Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus (CIEBOV) and then challenged with Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BEBOV), which was recently proposed as a new EBOV species following an outbreak in Uganda in 2007. A single vaccination with the ZEBOV–specific vaccine provided cross-protection (75% survival) against subsequent BEBOV challenge, whereas vaccination with the CIEBOV–specific vaccine resulted in an outcome similar to mock-immunized animals (33% and 25% survival, respectively). This demonstrates that monovalent rVSV-based vaccines may be useful against a newly emerging species; however, heterologous protection across species remains challenging and may depend on enhancing the immune responses either through booster immunizations or through the inclusion of multiple immunogens.
Lujo virus (LUJV) is a novel member of the Arenaviridae family that was first identified in 2008 after an outbreak of severe hemorrhagic fever (HF). In what was a small but rapidly progressing outbreak, this previously unknown virus was transmitted from the critically ill index patient to 4 attending healthcare workers. Four persons died during this outbreak, for a total case fatality of 80% (4/5). The suspected rodent source of the initial exposure to LUJV remains a mystery. Because of the ease of transmission, high case fatality, and novel nature of LUJV, we sought to establish an animal model of LUJV HF. Initial attempts in mice failed, but infection of inbred strain 13/N guinea pigs resulted in lethal disease. A total of 41 adult strain 13/N guinea pigs were infected with either wild-type LUJV or a full-length recombinant LUJV. Results demonstrated that strain 13/N guinea pigs provide an excellent model of severe and lethal LUJV HF that closely resembles what is known of the human disease. All infected animals experienced consistent weight loss (3–5% per day) and clinical illness characterized by ocular discharge, ruffled fur, hunched posture, and lethargy. Uniform lethality occurred by 11–16 days post-infection. All animals developed disseminated LUJV infection in various organs (liver, spleen, lung, and kidney), and leukopenia, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, coagulopathy, and elevated transaminase levels. Serial euthanasia studies revealed a temporal pattern of virus dissemination and increasing severity of disease, primarily targeting the liver, spleen, lungs, and lower gastrointestinal tract. Establishing an animal LUJV model is an important first step towards understanding the high pathogenicity of LUJV and developing vaccines and antiviral therapeutic drugs for this highly transmissible and lethal emerging pathogen.
The pathogenic arenaviruses are a diverse group of human pathogens capable of causing a wide range of human illness ranging from encephalitis to severe hemorrhagic fever throughout the New and Old World. In 2008, a previously unknown virus (now named Lujo virus) caused a high case fatality outbreak (80%) in southern Africa. Limited data available from these patients indicated that LUJV HF was characterized by thrombocytopenia, elevated liver transaminases, coagulopathy, viral antigen in multiple tissues, neurological symptoms in some cases, and eventual death. The source of exposure of the index patient remains unknown. Due to the unusually high lethality and rapid human to human spread, we sought to develop an animal model of Lujo hemorrhagic fever. We report here that after infection with Lujo virus, Strain 13/N guinea pigs develop a hemorrhagic fever syndrome similar to the disease observed in human patients. This animal model of severe Lujo hemorrhagic fever is a critical first step to increase our understanding of this highly pathogenic virus, and to develop anti-viral therapeutics or experimental vaccines for this new and unique threat to human health.
Considerable progress has been made over the last decade in developing candidate preventive vaccines that can protect nonhuman primates against Ebola and Marburg viruses. A vaccine based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) seems to be particularly robust as it can also confer protection when administered as a postexposure treatment. While filoviruses are not thought to be transmitted by aerosol in nature the inhalation route is among the most likely portals of entry in the setting of a bioterrorist event. At present, all candidate filoviral vaccines have been evaluated against parenteral challenges but none have been tested against an aerosol exposure. Here, we evaluated our recombinant VSV-based Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV) vaccines against aerosol challenge in cynomolgus macaques. All monkeys vaccinated with a VSV vector expressing the glycoprotein of ZEBOV were completely protected against an aerosol exposure of ZEBOV. Likewise, all monkeys vaccinated with a VSV vector expressing the glycoprotein of MARV were completely protected against an aerosol exposure of MARV. All control animals challenged by the aerosol route with either ZEBOV or MARV succumbed. Interestingly, disease in control animals appeared to progress slower than previously seen in macaques exposed to comparable doses by intramuscular injection.
Ebola virus; Marburg virus; Filovirus; Nonhuman primates; Aerosol; Vaccines
Marburg and Ebola viruses cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates. Currently, there are no effective treatments and no licensed vaccines; although a number of vaccine platforms have proven successful in animal models. The ideal filovirus vaccine candidate should be able to provide rapid protection following a single immunization, have the potential to work postexposure and be cross-reactive or multivalent against all Marburg virus strains and all relevant Ebola virus species and strains. Currently, there are multiple platforms that have provided prophylactic protection in nonhuman primates, including DNA, recombinant adenovirus serotype 5, recombinant human parainfluenza virus 3 and virus-like particles. In addition, a single platform, recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus, has demonstrated both prophylactic and postexposure protection in nonhuman primates. These results demonstrate that achieving a vaccine that is protective against filoviruses is possible; the challenge now is to prove its safety and efficacy in order to obtain a vaccine that is ready for human use.
Ebola virus; filovirus; Marburg virus; postexposure; prophylactic; vaccine
For more than 30 years the filoviruses, Marburg virus and Ebola virus, have been associated with periodic outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever that produce severe and often fatal disease. The filoviruses are endemic primarily in resource-poor regions in Central Africa and are also potential agents of bioterrorism. Although no vaccines or antiviral drugs for Marburg or Ebola are currently available, remarkable progress has been made over the last decade in developing candidate preventive vaccines against filoviruses in nonhuman primate models. Due to the generally remote locations of filovirus outbreaks, a single-injection vaccine is desirable. Among the prospective vaccines that have shown efficacy in nonhuman primate models of filoviral hemorrhagic fever, two candidates, one based on a replication-defective adenovirus serotype 5 and the other on a recombinant VSV (rVSV), were shown to provide complete protection to nonhuman primates when administered as a single injection. The rVSV-based vaccine has also shown utility when administered for postexposure prophylaxis against filovirus infections. A VSV-based Ebola vaccine was recently used to manage a potential laboratory exposure.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) and Marburg hemorrhagic fever (MHF) are rare viral
diseases, endemic to central Africa. The overall burden of EHF and MHF is small
in comparison to the more common protozoan, helminth, and bacterial diseases
typically referred to as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). However, EHF and
MHF outbreaks typically occur in resource-limited settings, and many aspects of
these outbreaks are a direct consequence of impoverished conditions. We will
discuss aspects of EHF and MHF disease, in comparison to the
“classic” NTDs, and examine potential ways forward in the prevention
and control of EHF and MHF in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as examine the
potential for application of novel vaccines or antiviral drugs for prevention or
control of EHF and MHF among populations at highest risk for disease.
Junín virus (JUNV), an arenavirus, is the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever, an infectious human disease with 15–30% case fatality. The pathogenesis of AHF is still not well understood. Elevated levels of interferon and cytokines are reported in AHF patients, which might be correlated to the severity of the disease. However the innate immune response to JUNV infection has not been well evaluated. Previous studies have suggested that the virulent strain of JUNV does not induce IFN in human macrophages and monocytes, whereas the attenuated strain of JUNV was found to induce IFN response in murine macrophages via the TLR-2 signaling pathway. In this study, we investigated the interaction between JUNV and IFN pathway in human epithelial cells highly permissive to JUNV infection. We have determined the expression pattern of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) and IFN-β at both mRNA and protein levels during JUNV infection. Our results clearly indicate that JUNV infection activates the type I IFN response. STAT1 phosphorylation, a downstream marker of activation of IFN signaling pathway, was readily detected in JUNV infected IFN-competent cells. Our studies also demonstrated for the first time that RIG-I was required for IFN production during JUNV infection. IFN activation was detected during infection by either the virulent or attenuated vaccine strain of JUNV. Curiously, both virus strains were relatively insensitive to human IFN treatment. Our studies collectively indicated that JUNV infection could induce host type I IFN response and provided new insights into the interaction between JUNV and host innate immune system, which might be important in future studies on vaccine development and antiviral treatment.
Junín virus (JUNV), which is endemic to the Argentinean Pampas region, is the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever (AHF), a severe illness with hemorrhagic and neurological manifestations and with a case fatality of 15–30%. Clinical studies demonstrate that elevated levels of interferon and cytokines are produced in AHF patients, which might be correlated to the severity of disease. However it remains unclear, especially during virus infection, how human cells can sense virus infection and respond by activation of IFN pathway. Our studies clearly demonstrated that JUNV infection could activate type I IFN response in human cells. IFN pathway activation occurred in cells infected with either virulent strain or attenuated vaccine strain of JUNV. Our data also revealed for the first time that RIG-I was required for type I IFN production during virus infection in human cells. Interestingly, both strains of JUNV were relatively insensitive to human IFN treatment, which might have implications for the role of the IFN on virus infection in vivo. Overall, these results indicate that JUNV infection could induce host IFN response and provide new insights into JUNV and host interaction as well as the mechanism underlying AHF.
Rabies is a fatal infection of the central nervous system primarily transmitted by rabid animal bites. Rabies virus (RABV) circulates through two different epidemiological cycles: terrestrial and aerial, where dogs, foxes or skunks and bats, respectively, act as the most relevant reservoirs and/or vectors. It is widely accepted that insectivorous bats are not important vectors of RABV in Argentina despite the great diversity of bat species and the extensive Argentinean territory.
We studied the positivity rate of RABV detection in different areas of the country, and the antigenic and genetic diversity of 99 rabies virus (RABV) strains obtained from 14 species of insectivorous bats collected in Argentina between 1991 and 2008.
Based on the analysis of bats received for RABV analysis by the National Rabies system of surveillance, the positivity rate of RABV in insectivorous bats ranged from 3.1 to 5.4%, depending on the geographic location. The findings were distributed among an extensive area of the Argentinean territory. The 99 strains of insectivorous bat-related sequences were divided into six distinct lineages associated with Tadarida brasiliensis, Myotis spp, Eptesicus spp, Histiotus montanus, Lasiurus blosseviilli and Lasiurus cinereus. Comparison with RABV sequences obtained from insectivorous bats of the Americas revealed co-circulation of similar genetic variants in several countries. Finally, inter-species transmission, mostly related with Lasiurus species, was demonstrated in 11.8% of the samples.
This study demonstrates the presence of several independent enzootics of rabies in insectivorous bats of Argentina. This information is relevant to identify potential areas at risk for human and animal infection.
In Argentina, successful vaccination and control of terrestrial rabies in the 1980s revealed the importance of the aerial route in RABV transmission. Current distribution of cases shows a predominance of rabies by hematophagous bats in the Northern regions where rabies is a major public health concern; in contrast, in Central and Southern regions where rabies is not a major public health concern, little surveillance is performed. Based on the analysis of insectivorous bats received for RABV analysis by the National Rabies system of surveillance, the positivity rate of RABV in insectivorous bats in these regions ranged from 3.1 to 5.4%. This rate is comparable to other nations such as the United States (9–10%) where insectivorous bats are an important cause of concern for RABV surveillance systems. Antigenic and genetic analysis of a wide collection of rabies strains shows the presence of multiple endemic cycles associated with six bat insectivorous species distributed among an extensive area of the Argentinean territory and several countries of the Americas. Finally, inter-species transmission, mostly related with Lasiurus species, was demonstrated in 11.8% of the samples. Increased public education about the relationship between insectivorous bats and rabies are essential to avoid human cases and potential spread to terrestrial mammals.
Fast and sensitive virus detection techniques, which can be rapidly deployed at multiple sites, are essential to prevent and control the future epidemics and bioterrorism threats. In this letter, we demonstrate a label-free optofluidic-nanoplasmonic sensor that can directly detect intact viruses from biological media at clinically relevant concentrations with little to no sample preparation. Our sensing platform is based on extraordinary light transmission effect in plasmonic nanoholes and utilizes group specific antibodies for highly divergent strains of rapidly evolving viruses. So far, the questions remain for the possible limitations of this technique for virus detection, as the penetration depths of the surface plasmon polaritons (SPP) are comparable to the dimensions of the pathogens. Here, we demonstrate detection and recognition of small enveloped RNA viruses (vesicular stomatitis virus and pseudo-typed Ebola) as well as large enveloped DNA viruses (vaccinia virus) within a dynamic range spanning three orders of magnitude. Our platform, by enabling high signal noise measurements without any mechanical or optical isolation, opens up opportunities for detection of a broad range of pathogens in typical biology laboratory settings.
Biosensing; Plasmonics; Virus Detection; Vaccinia; Ebola; Vesicular Stomatitis Virus
Rift Valley fever (RVF), a re-emerging mosquito-borne disease of ruminants and man, was endemic in Africa but spread to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, meaning it could spread even further. Little is known about innate and cell-mediated immunity to RVF virus (RVFV) in ruminants, which is knowledge required for adequate vaccine trials. We therefore studied these aspects in experimentally infected goats. We also compared RVFV grown in an insect cell-line and that grown in a mammalian cell-line for differences in the course of infection. Goats developed viremia one day post infection (DPI), which lasted three to four days and some goats had transient fever coinciding with peak viremia. Up to 4% of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were positive for RVFV. Monocytes and dendritic cells in PBMCs declined possibly from being directly infected with virus as suggested by in vitro exposure. Infected goats produced serum IFN-γ, IL-12 and other proinflammatory cytokines but not IFN-α. Despite the lack of IFN-α, innate immunity via the IL-12 to IFN-γ circuit possibly contributed to early protection against RVFV since neutralising antibodies were detected after viremia had cleared. The course of infection with insect cell-derived RVFV (IN-RVFV) appeared to be different from mammalian cell-derived RVFV (MAM-RVFV), with the former attaining peak viremia faster, inducing fever and profoundly affecting specific immune cell subpopulations. This indicated possible differences in infections of ruminants acquired from mosquito bites relative to those due to contact with infectious material from other animals. These differences need to be considered when testing RVF vaccines in laboratory settings.
Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a mosquito-transmitted disease of ruminants and man, which occurs in Africa, Saudi Arabia and Yemen but could spread to other areas. There isn't much information on some aspects of the immune response to this disease and how it affects cells of the immune system in the natural animal hosts. To fill in some of this knowledge gap, we studied RVF in goats experimentally infected with the RVF virus. We also compared RVF virus grown in an insect cell-line and that grown in a mammalian cell-line for differences in the course of infection. Virus was present in the blood of the goats one day after infection. Some goats had fever coinciding with the time when the virus level in the blood was highest. Some cells in the blood dropped in number possibly as a direct effect of virus. Infected goats secreted cytokines (interferon gamma and interleukin-12), which possibly contributed to protection against RVF. Virus from an insect cell-line appeared to have more obvious effects in infected goats suggesting that differences may exist in infections of ruminants acquired from mosquito bites compared to those due to contact with infectious material from other animals.
Hendra virus (HeV) is a recently emerged zoonotic paramyxovirus that can cause a severe and often fatal disease in horses and humans. HeV is categorized as a biosafety level 4 agent, which has made the development of animal models and testing of potential therapeutics and vaccines challenging. Infection of African Green monkeys (AGMs) with HeV was recently demonstrated and disease mirrored fatal HeV infection in humans, manifesting as a multisystemic vasculitis with widespread virus replication in vascular tissues and severe pathologic manifestations in the lung, spleen and brain. Here, we demonstrate that m102.4, a potent HeV neutralizing human monoclonal antibody (hmAb), can protect AGMs from disease post infection (p.i.) with HeV. Fourteen AGMs were challenged intratracheally with a lethal dose of HeV and twelve subjects were infused twice with a 100 mg dose of m102.4 beginning at either 10 hr, 24 hr or 72 hr p.i. and again approximately 48 hrs later. The presence of viral RNA, infectious virus and HeV-specific immune responses demonstrated that all subjects were infected following challenge. All twelve AGMs that received m102.4 survived infection; whereas the untreated control subjects succumbed to disease on day 8 p.i.. Animals in the 72 hr treatment group exhibited neurological signs of disease but all animals started to recover by day 16 p.i.. These results represent successful post-exposure in vivo efficacy by an investigational drug against HeV and highlight the potential impact a hmAb can have on human disease.
We demonstrate detection of whole viruses and viral proteins with a new label-free platform based on spectral reflectance imaging. The Interferometric Reflectance Imaging Sensor (IRIS) has been shown to be capable of sensitive protein and DNA detection in a real time and high-throughput format. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) was used as the target for detection as it is well-characterized for protein composition and can be modified to express viral coat proteins from other dangerous, highly pathogenic agents for surrogate detection while remaining a biosafety level 2 agent. We demonstrate specific detection of intact VSV virions achieved with surface-immobilized antibodies acting as capture probes which is confirmed using fluorescence imaging. The limit of detection is confirmed down to 3.5×105 plaque-forming units/mL (PFUs/mL). To increase specificity in a clinical scenario, both the external glycoprotein and internal viral proteins were simultaneously detected with the same antibody arrays with detergent-disrupted purified VSV and infected cell lysate solutions. Our results show sensitive and specific virus detection with a simple surface chemistry and minimal sample preparation on a quantitative label-free interferometric platform.
Virus detection; Label-free; Interferometry; Biosensor; High-throughput; Microarray; Quantitative sensing
The filoviruses, Marburg virus and Ebola virus, cause severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality in humans and nonhuman primates. Among the most promising filovirus vaccines under development is a system based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) that expresses an individual filovirus glycoprotein (GP) in place of the VSV glycoprotein (G). The main concern with all replication-competent vaccines, including the rVSV filovirus GP vectors, is their safety. To address this concern, we performed a neurovirulence study using 21 cynomolgus macaques where the vaccines were administered intrathalamically. Seven animals received a rVSV vector expressing the Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) GP; seven animals received a rVSV vector expressing the Lake Victoria marburgvirus (MARV) GP; three animals received rVSV-wild type (wt) vector, and four animals received vehicle control. Two of three animals given rVSV-wt showed severe neurological symptoms whereas animals receiving vehicle control, rVSV-ZEBOV-GP, or rVSV-MARV-GP did not develop these symptoms. Histological analysis revealed major lesions in neural tissues of all three rVSV-wt animals; however, no significant lesions were observed in any animals from the filovirus vaccine or vehicle control groups. These data strongly suggest that rVSV filovirus GP vaccine vectors lack the neurovirulence properties associated with the rVSV-wt parent vector and support their further development as a vaccine platform for human use.
Ebola and Marburg viruses are categorized as Category A priority pathogens by several US Government agencies as a result of their high mortality rates and potential for use as agents of bioterrorism. There are currently no vaccines or therapeutics approved for human use. A replication-competent, recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vector expressing filovirus glycoproteins (GP), in place of the VSV G protein has shown promise in lethal nonhuman primate models of filovirus infection as both a single-injection preventive vaccine and a postexposure treatment. Replication-competent vaccines that are intended for use in humans usually undergo neurovirulence testing as was done for measles virus, mumps virus, yellow fever virus, and poliovirus vaccines. Here we used a conventional neurovirulence test to evaluate the safety of our rVSV-based Zaire ebolavirus and Lake Victoria marburgvirus GP vaccines in cynomolgus macaques. Importantly, we demonstrate for the first time that these rVSV filovirus GP vectors lack neurovirulence when compared to a rVSV wild-type vector.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a major human and animal pathogen associated with severe disease including hemorrhagic fever or encephalitis. RVFV is endemic to parts of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but there is significant concern regarding its introduction into non-endemic regions and the potentially devastating effect to livestock populations with concurrent infections of humans. To date, there is little detailed data directly comparing the host response to infection with wild-type or vaccine strains of RVFV and correlation with viral pathogenesis. Here we characterized clinical and systemic immune responses to infection with wild-type strain ZH501 or IND vaccine strain MP-12 in the C57BL/6 mouse. Animals infected with live-attenuated MP-12 survived productive viral infection with little evidence of clinical disease and minimal cytokine response in evaluated tissues. In contrast, ZH501 infection was lethal, caused depletion of lymphocytes and platelets and elicited a strong, systemic cytokine response which correlated with high virus titers and significant tissue pathology. Lymphopenia and platelet depletion were indicators of disease onset with indications of lymphocyte recovery correlating with increases in G-CSF production. RVFV is hepatotropic and in these studies significant clinical and histological data supported these findings; however, significant evidence of a pro-inflammatory response in the liver was not apparent. Rather, viral infection resulted in a chemokine response indicating infiltration of immunoreactive cells, such as neutrophils, which was supported by histological data. In brains of ZH501 infected mice, a significant chemokine and pro-inflammatory cytokine response was evident, but with little pathology indicating meningoencephalitis. These data suggest that RVFV pathogenesis in mice is associated with a loss of liver function due to liver necrosis and hepatitis yet the long-term course of disease for those that might survive the initial hepatitis is neurologic in nature which is supported by observations of human disease and the BALB/c mouse model.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a deadly virus that is found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. However, mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting RVFV have a worldwide distribution. RVF affects a broad range of animal species and is known to cause encephalitis or hemorrhagic fever in humans with survivors having long-term health effects such as a loss of vision. There is no vaccine currently approved for use in humans. In this study we evaluated the host response to infection with either a RVFV vaccine strain or a wild-type strain to identify similarities or differences that could be exploited for development of therapeutics or improved vaccines. While mice infected with the vaccine strain did not develop disease and survived, infection with the wild-type strain caused severe disease with a fatal outcome. Analyzing multiple clinical factors and the host immune response over the course of infection allowed us to identify potential host factors associated with disease progression during wild-type virus infection. This work also provides support for a current vaccine candidate, MP-12, in demonstrating a limited and protective host response to infection.
Ebola and Marburg viruses are emerging/re-emerging zoonotic pathogens that cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever with case-fatality rates up to 90% in humans. Over the last three decades numerous outbreaks, of increasing frequency, have been documented in endemic regions. Furthermore, as a result of increased international travel filovirus infections have been imported into South Africa, Europe and North America. Both viruses possess the potential of being used as bioterrorism agents and are classified as category A pathogens. Currently there is neither a licensed vaccine nor effective treatment available, despite substantial efforts being d́edicated to understanding filovirus well as vaccine and drug development. One of the most promising vaccine platforms is based on replication competent recombinant vesicular stomatitis viruses (rVSV) that express a filovirus glycoprotein as the surface antigen. These rVSVs have been extensively studied in rodent and nonhuman primate models of filovirus disease and, in general, have been shown to be 100% protective in pre-exposure prophylaxis. In addition, rVSVs have demonstrated potential for post-exposure treatment, and thus would be particularly useful in the event of intentional release as well as accidental exposures in outbreak and laboratory settings.
Based on epidemiological data, it is believed that human-to-human transmission plays an important role in Nipah virus outbreaks. No experimental data are currently available on the potential routes of human-to-human transmission of Nipah virus. In a first dose-finding experiment in Syrian hamsters, it was shown that Nipah virus was predominantly shed via the respiratory tract within nasal and oropharyngeal secretions. Although Nipah viral RNA was detected in urogenital and rectal swabs, no infectious virus was recovered from these samples, suggesting no viable virus was shed via these routes. In addition, hamsters inoculated with high doses shed significantly higher amounts of viable Nipah virus particles in comparison with hamsters infected with lower inoculum doses. Using the highest inoculum dose, three potential routes of Nipah virus transmission were investigated in the hamster model: transmission via fomites, transmission via direct contact and transmission via aerosols. It was demonstrated that Nipah virus is transmitted efficiently via direct contact and inefficiently via fomites, but not via aerosols. These findings are in line with epidemiological data which suggest that direct contact with nasal and oropharyngeal secretions of Nipah virus infected individuals resulted in greater risk of Nipah virus infection. The data provide new and much-needed insights into the modes and efficiency of Nipah virus transmission and have important public health implications with regards to the risk assessment and management of future Nipah virus outbreaks.
Understanding how viruses are transmitted plays an important role in our ability to intervene in virus outbreaks. Over the last decade, Nipah virus has caused multiple outbreaks in Malaysia, India and especially Bangladesh. Fruit bats form the natural reservoir for Nipah virus; from the bats the virus is introduced into the human population, either directly or via an intermediate host. Epidemiological data suggest that upon introduction into the human population the virus has the ability to spread from person-to-person. We performed experimental studies in a hamster model to investigate if we could mimic human-to-human transmission and to determine the route of transmission through which Nipah virus spread between people. We discovered that Nipah virus-infected hamsters predominantly shed virus via excretions from the nose and lungs. In transmission experiments, we showed that Nipah virus is efficiently transmitted via direct contact. Fomite transmission was inefficient and transmission via aerosols did not occur. The elucidation of the mode of Nipah virus transmission has important public health implications because it allows a targeted and experiment-based assessment of intervention strategies and surveillance for emerging Nipah virus strains better adapted to human-to-human transmission.
The taxonomy of the family Filoviridae (marburgviruses and ebolaviruses) has changed several times since the discovery of its members, resulting in a plethora of species and virus names and abbreviations. The current taxonomy has only been partially accepted by most laboratory virologists. Confusion likely arose for several reasons: species names that consist of several words or which (should) contain diacritical marks, the current orthographic identity of species and virus names, and the similar pronunciation of several virus abbreviations in the absence of guidance for the correct use of vernacular names. To rectify this problem, we suggest (1) to retain the current species names Reston ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, and Zaire ebolavirus, but to replace the name Cote d'Ivoire ebolavirus [sic] with Taï Forest ebolavirus and Lake Victoria marburgvirus with Marburg marburgvirus; (2) to revert the virus names of the type marburgviruses and ebolaviruses to those used for decades in the field (Marburg virus instead of Lake Victoria marburgvirus and Ebola virus instead of Zaire ebolavirus); (3) to introduce names for the remaining viruses reminiscent of jargon used by laboratory virologists but nevertheless different from species names (Reston virus, Sudan virus, Taï Forest virus), and (4) to introduce distinct abbreviations for the individual viruses (RESTV for Reston virus, SUDV for Sudan virus, and TAFV for Taï Forest virus), while retaining that for Marburg virus (MARV) and reintroducing that used over decades for Ebola virus (EBOV). Paying tribute to developments in the field, we propose (a) to create a new ebolavirus species (Bundibugyo ebolavirus) for one member virus (Bundibugyo virus, BDBV); (b) to assign a second virus to the species Marburg marburgvirus (Ravn virus, RAVV) for better reflection of now available high-resolution phylogeny; and (c) to create a new tentative genus (Cuevavirus) with one tentative species (Lloviu cuevavirus) for the recently discovered Lloviu virus (LLOV). Furthermore, we explain the etymological derivation of individual names, their pronunciation, and their correct use, and we elaborate on demarcation criteria for each taxon and virus.