The clinical symptoms caused by infection with influenza A virus vary widely and depend on the strain causing the infection, the dose and route of inoculation, and the presence of preexisting immunity. In most cases, seasonal influenza A viruses cause relatively mild upper respiratory tract disease, while sometimes patients develop an acute severe pneumonia. Heterosubtypic immunity induced by previous infections with influenza A viruses may dampen the development of clinical symptoms caused by infection with influenza A viruses of another subtype, as is the case during influenza pandemics. Here we show that ferrets acquire protective immunity after infection of the upper respiratory tract with a seasonal influenza A(H3N2) virus against subsequent infection with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus inoculated by the intranasal route. However, protective heterosubtypic immunity was afforded locally, since the prior infection with the A(H3N2) virus did not provide protection against the development of pneumonia induced after intratracheal inoculation with the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus. Interestingly, some of these animals developed more severe disease than that observed in naïve control animals. These findings are of interest in light of the development of so-called universal influenza vaccines that aim at the induction of cross-reactive T cell responses.
Although low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) is traditionally considered to have adapted to its wild waterbird host to become avirulent, recent studies have suggested that LPAIV infection might after all have clinical effects. Therefore, I reviewed the literature on LPAIV infections in wild waterbirds. The virulence of LPAIV was assessed in 17 studies on experimental infections and nine studies on natural infections. Reported evidence for virulence were reductions in return rate, feeding rate, body weight, long-range movement and reproductive success, as well as pathological changes in infected organs. However, major caveats in studies of experimental infections were unnatural route of LPAIV inoculation, animal husbandry not simulating natural stressors and low sensitivity of clinical assessment. Major caveats in studies of natural infections were incomplete measurement of LPAIV infection burden, quasi-experimental design and potential misclassification of birds. After taking these caveats into account, the only remaining evidence for virulence was that presence and intensity of LPAIV infection were negatively correlated with body weight. Based on this correlation, together with the demonstrated LPAIV tropism for the intestinal tract, I hypothesize that LPAIV reduces digestive tract function, and suggest how future studies could be directed to test this hypothesis.
digestive tract function; experimental design; influenza virus; trade-off model; virulence; waterbirds
A thorough understanding of virus diversity in wildlife provides epidemiological baseline information about pathogens. In this study, eye swab samples were obtained from semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifertarandustarandus) in Norway during an outbreak of infectious eye disease, possibly a very early stage of infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC). Large scale molecular virus screening, based on host nucleic acid depletion, sequence-independent amplification and next-generation sequencing of partially purified viral nucleic acid, revealed the presence of a new papillomavirus in 2 out of 8 eye swab samples and a new betaherpesvirus in 3 out of 8 eye swab samples collected from animals with clinical signs and not in similar samples in 9 animals without clinical signs. Whether either virus was responsible for causing the clinical signs or in any respect was associated to the disease condition remains to be determined.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is among the most relevant causes of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Research is complicated by a lack of accessible small animal models. The systematic investigation of viruses of small mammals could guide efforts to establish such models, while providing insight into viral evolutionary biology. We have assembled the so-far largest collection of small-mammal samples from around the world, qualified to be screened for bloodborne viruses, including sera and organs from 4,770 rodents (41 species); and sera from 2,939 bats (51 species). Three highly divergent rodent hepacivirus clades were detected in 27 (1.8%) of 1,465 European bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and 10 (1.9%) of 518 South African four-striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio). Bats showed anti-HCV immunoblot reactivities but no virus detection, although the genetic relatedness suggested by the serologic results should have enabled RNA detection using the broadly reactive PCR assays developed for this study. 210 horses and 858 cats and dogs were tested, yielding further horse-associated hepaciviruses but none in dogs or cats. The rodent viruses were equidistant to HCV, exceeding by far the diversity of HCV and the canine/equine hepaciviruses taken together. Five full genomes were sequenced, representing all viral lineages. Salient genome features and distance criteria supported classification of all viruses as hepaciviruses. Quantitative RT-PCR, RNA in-situ hybridisation, and histopathology suggested hepatic tropism with liver inflammation resembling hepatitis C. Recombinant serology for two distinct hepacivirus lineages in 97 bank voles identified seroprevalence rates of 8.3 and 12.4%, respectively. Antibodies in bank vole sera neither cross-reacted with HCV, nor the heterologous bank vole hepacivirus. Co-occurrence of RNA and antibodies was found in 3 of 57 PCR-positive bank vole sera (5.3%). Our data enable new hypotheses regarding HCV evolution and encourage efforts to develop rodent surrogate models for HCV.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most relevant causes of liver disease and cancer in humans. The lack of a small animal models represents an important hurdle on our way to understanding, treating, and preventing hepatitis C. The investigation of small mammals could identify virus infections similar to hepatitis C in animals that can be kept in laboratories, such as rodents, and can also yield insights into the evolution of those ancestral virus lineages out of which HCV developed. Here, we investigated a worldwide sample of 4,770 rodents, 2,939 bats, 210 horses and 858 cats and dogs for HCV-related viruses. New viruses were discovered in European bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and South African four-striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio). The disease in bank voles was studied in more detail, suggesting that infection of the liver occurs with similar symptoms to those caused by HCV in humans. These rodents might thus enable the development of new laboratory models of hepatitis C. Moreover, the phylogenetic history of those viruses provides fascinating new ideas regarding the evolution of HCV ancestors.
We explored the attachment of an H16N3 influenza virus to human, mallard, and gull tissues using virus histochemistry applied to tissue microarrays and employing human and mallard viruses as references. Of the viruses tested, the H16N3 gull virus most readily attached to the human respiratory tract and eye. These results underscore the need to assess the potential for gull influenza viruses to replicate in human tissues and further investigate the role of gulls in influenza virus ecology.
influenza B virus; seals; serology; viruses; influenza; Suggested citation for this article: Bodewes R; Morick D; de Mutsert G; Osinga N; Bestebroer T; van der Vliet S; et al. Recurring influenza B virus infections in seals [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Mar [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1903.120965
In 1988 and 2002, two major phocine distemper virus (PDV) outbreaks occurred in harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in north-western European coastal waters, causing the death of tens of thousands seals. Here we investigated whether PDV is still circulating among seals of the Dutch coastal waters and whether seals have protective serum-antibodies against PDV. Therefore seal serum samples, collected from 2002 to 2012, were tested for the presence of PDV-neutralizing antibodies. Antibodies were detected in most seals in 2002 and 2003 while after 2003 antibodies were detected only in seals less than two month-old and adult seals that probably had survived the 2002 PDV-epizootic. We estimated the current proportion of seals with antibodies against PDV at 11%. These findings suggest that at present the vast majority of seals are not immune to PDV infection. PDV re-introduction in this area may cause a major epizootic with infection of >80% and mass-mortality of >50% of the population.
phocine distemper virus; seals; serology; epizootic
The One Health paradigm for global health recognizes that most new human infectious diseases will emerge from animal reservoirs. Little consideration has been given to the known and potential zoonotic infectious diseases of small companion animals. Cats and dogs closely share the domestic environment with humans and have the potential to act as sources and sentinels of a wide spectrum of zoonotic infections. This report highlights the lack of a coordinated global surveillance scheme that monitors disease in these species and makes a case for the necessity of developing a strategy to implement such surveillance.
dogs; cats; small companion animals; emerging zoonoses; zoonoses; zoonotic infectious disease; transmission; surveillance; One Health
The route by which highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus spreads systemically, including the central nervous system (CNS), is largely unknown in mammals. Especially, the olfactory route, which could be a route of entry into the CNS, has not been studied in detail. Although the multibasic cleavage site (MBCS) in the hemagglutinin (HA) of HPAI H5N1 viruses is a major determinant of systemic spread in poultry, the association between the MBCS and systemic spread in mammals is less clear. Here we determined the virus distribution of HPAI H5N1 virus in ferrets in time and space—including along the olfactory route—and the role of the MBCS in systemic replication. Intranasal inoculation with wild-type H5N1 virus revealed extensive replication in the olfactory mucosa, from which it spread to the olfactory bulb and the rest of the CNS, including the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Virus spread to the heart, liver, pancreas, and colon was also detected, indicating hematogenous spread. Ferrets inoculated intranasally with H5N1 virus lacking an MBCS demonstrated respiratory tract infection only. In conclusion, HPAI H5N1 virus can spread systemically via two different routes, olfactory and hematogenous, in ferrets. This systemic spread was dependent on the presence of the MBCS in HA.
Influenza virus tissue tropism defines the host cells and tissues that support viral replication and contributes to determining which regions of the respiratory tract are infected in humans. The location of influenza virus infection along the respiratory tract is a key determinant of virus pathogenicity and transmissibility, which are at the basis of influenza burdens in the human population. As the pathogenicity and transmissibility of influenza virus ultimately determine its reproductive fitness at the population level, strong selective pressures will shape influenza virus tissue tropisms that maximize fitness. At present, the relationships between influenza virus tissue tropism within hosts and reproductive fitness at the population level are poorly understood. The selective pressures and constraints that shape tissue tropism and thereby influence the location of influenza virus infection along the respiratory tract are not well characterized. We use mathematical models that link within-host infection dynamics in a spatially-structured human respiratory tract to between-host transmission dynamics, with the aim of characterizing the possible selective pressures on influenza virus tissue tropism. The results indicate that spatial heterogeneities in virus clearance, virus pathogenicity or both, resulting from the unique structure of the respiratory tract, may drive optimal receptor binding affinity–that maximizes influenza virus reproductive fitness at the population level–towards sialic acids with α2,6 linkage to galactose. The expanding cell pool deeper down the respiratory tract, in association with lower clearance rates, may result in optimal infectivity rates–that likewise maximize influenza virus reproductive fitness at the population level–to exhibit a decreasing trend towards deeper regions of the respiratory tract. Lastly, pre-existing immunity may drive influenza virus tissue tropism towards upper regions of the respiratory tract. The proposed framework provides a new template for the cross-scale study of influenza virus evolutionary and epidemiological dynamics in humans.
Avian A/H5N1 influenza viruses pose a pandemic threat. As few as five amino acid substitutions, or four with reassortment, might be sufficient for mammal-to-mammal transmission by respiratory droplets. From surveillance data we find that two of these substitutions are common in A/H5N1 viruses and thus some viruses might require only three additional substitutions to become transmissible via respiratory droplets between mammals. We use a mathematical model of within-host virus evolution to study factors that could increase and decrease the probability of the remaining substitutions evolving after the virus has infected a mammalian host. These factors combined with the presence of some of these substitutions in circulating strains, make a virus evolving in nature a potentially serious threat. These results highlight critical areas where more data are needed for assessing, and potentially averting, this threat.
Humans may be infected by different influenza A viruses—seasonal, pandemic, and zoonotic—which differ in presentation from mild upper respiratory tract disease to severe and sometimes fatal pneumonia with extra-respiratory spread. Differences in spatial and temporal dynamics of these infections are poorly understood. Therefore, we inoculated ferrets with seasonal H3N2, pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1), and highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza virus and performed detailed virological and pathological analyses at time points from 0.5 to 14 days post inoculation (dpi), as well as describing clinical signs and hematological parameters. H3N2 infection was restricted to the nose and peaked at 1 dpi. pH1N1 infection also peaked at 1 dpi, but occurred at similar levels throughout the respiratory tract. H5N1 infection occurred predominantly in the alveoli, where it peaked for a longer period, from 1 to 3 dpi. The associated lesions followed the same spatial distribution as virus infection, but their severity peaked between 1 and 6 days later. Neutrophil and monocyte counts in peripheral blood correlated with inflammatory cell influx in the alveoli. Of the different parameters used to measure lower respiratory tract disease, relative lung weight and affected lung tissue allowed the best quantitative distinction between the virus groups. There was extra-respiratory spread to more tissues—including the central nervous system—for H5N1 infection than for pH1N1 infection, and to none for H3N2 infection. This study shows that seasonal, pandemic, and zoonotic influenza viruses differ strongly in the spatial and temporal dynamics of infection in the respiratory tract and extra-respiratory tissues of ferrets.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 can infect mammals via the intestine; this is unusual since influenza viruses typically infect mammals via the respiratory tract. The dissemination of HPAIV H5N1 following intestinal entry and associated pathogenesis are largely unknown. To assess the route of spread of HPAIV H5N1 to other organs and to determine its associated pathogenesis, we inoculated infected chicken liver homogenate directly into the intestine of cats by use of enteric-coated capsules. Intestinal inoculation of HPAIV H5N1 resulted in fatal systemic disease. The spread of HPAIV H5N1 from the lumen of the intestine to other organs took place via the blood and lymphatic vascular systems but not via neuronal transmission. Remarkably, the systemic spread of the virus via the vascular system was associated with massive infection of endothelial and lymphendothelial cells, resulting in widespread hemorrhages. This is unique for influenza in mammals and resembles the pathogenesis of HPAIV infection in terrestrial poultry. It contrasts with the pathogenesis of systemic disease from the same virus following entry via the respiratory tract, where lesions are characterized mainly by necrosis and inflammation and are associated with the presence of influenza virus antigen in parenchymal, not endothelial cells. The marked endotheliotropism of the virus following intestinal inoculation indicates that the pathogenesis of systemic influenza virus infection in mammals may differ according to the portal of entry.
A fatal human case of Duvenhage virus (DUVV) infection in a Dutch traveller who had returned from Kenya was reported in 2007. She exhibited classical symptoms of rabies encephalitis with distinct pathological findings. In the present study we describe the isolation and characterization of DUVV in vitro and its passage in BALB/c mice. The virus proved to be neuroinvasive in both juvenile and adult mice, resulting in about 50% lethality upon peripheral infection. Clinical signs in infected mice were those of classical rabies. However, the distribution of viral antigen expression in the brain differed from that of classical rabies virus infection and neither inclusion bodies nor neuronal necrosis were observed. This is the first study to describe the in vitro and in vivo isolation and characterization of DUVV.
Lyssaviruses have been known for centuries to cause lethal encephalitis in animals and humans, representing a serious public health problem especially in developing countries. Little is known about the way that lyssaviruses in general, and Duvenhage virus in particular cause disease. Studies of pathogenesis have been hampered by the fact that the virus has not yet been propagated and characterized extensively. In this paper, we describe the characterization of Duvenhage virus in vitro. Further, we characterized the virus in BALB/c mice. We compared Duvenhage virus with a wild type rabies virus (silver-haired bat rabies virus) and we found that while in vitro the differences of these two viruses were not significant, the in vivo characteristics of these two viruses differed significantly. Histological analyses of infected mouse brains suggest that differences in virulence may be associated with difference in tropism. Elucidating the differences in pathogenesis between different lyssaviruses might help us in the design of novel treatment protocols.
Patterns of virus attachment to the respiratory tract of 4 marine mammal species were determined for avian and human influenza viruses. Attachment of avian influenza A viruses (H4N5) and (H7N7) and human influenza B viruses to trachea and bronchi of harbor seals is consistent with reported influenza outbreaks in this species.
influenza; viruses; virus attachment; virus receptors; influenza A virus; influenza B virus; human influenza virus; avian influenza virus; marine mammals; respiratory tract
This study assessed the presence of sialic acid α-2,3 and α-2,6 linked glycan receptors in seven avian species. The respiratory and intestinal tracts of the chicken, common quail, red-legged partridge, turkey, golden pheasant, ostrich, and mallard were tested by means of lectin histochemistry, using the lectins Maackia amurensis agglutinin II and Sambucus nigra agglutinin, which show affinity for α-2,3 and α-2,6 receptors, respectively. Additionally, the pattern of virus attachment (PVA) was evaluated with virus histochemistry, using an avian-origin H4N5 virus and a human-origin seasonal H1N1 virus. There was a great variation of receptor distribution among the tissues and avian species studied. Both α-2,3 and α-2,6 receptors were present in the respiratory and intestinal tracts of the chicken, common quail, red-legged partridge, turkey, and golden pheasant. In ostriches, the expression of the receptor was basically restricted to α-2,3 in both the respiratory and intestinal tracts and in mallards the α-2,6 receptors were absent from the intestinal tract. The results obtained with the lectin histochemistry were, in general, in agreement with the PVA. The differential expression and distribution of α-2,3 and α-2,6 receptors among various avian species might reflect a potentially decisive factor in the emergence of new viral strains.
Corticosterone regulates physiological changes preparing wild birds for migration. It also modulates the immune system and may lead to increased susceptibility to infection, with implications for the spread of pathogens, including highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1. The red knot (Calidris canutus islandica) displays migratory changes in captivity and was used as a model to assess the effect of high plasma concentration of corticosterone on HPAIV H5N1 infection. We inoculated knots during pre-migration (N = 6), fueling (N = 5), migration (N = 9) and post-migration periods (N = 6). Knots from all groups shed similar viral titers for up to 5 days post-inoculation (dpi), peaking at 1 to 3 dpi. Lesions of acute encephalitis, associated with virus replication in neurons, were seen in 1 to 2 knots per group, leading to neurological disease and death at 5 to 11 dpi. Therefore, the risk of HPAIV H5N1 infection in wild birds and of potential transmission between wild birds and poultry may be similar at different times of the year, irrespective of wild birds' migratory status. However, in knots inoculated during the migration period, viral shedding levels positively correlated with pre-inoculation plasma concentration of corticosterone. Of these, knots that did not become productively infected had lower plasma concentration of corticosterone. Conversely, elevated plasma concentration of corticosterone did not result in an increased probability to develop clinical disease. These results suggest that birds with elevated plasma concentration of corticosterone at the time of migration (ready to migrate) may be more susceptible to acquisition of infection and shed higher viral titers—before the onset of clinical disease—than birds with low concentration of corticosterone (not ready for take-off). Yet, they may not be more prone to the development of clinical disease. Therefore, assuming no effect of sub-clinical infection on the likelihood of migratory take-off, this may favor the spread of HPAIV H5N1 by migratory birds over long distances.
Only two classes of antiviral drugs, neuraminidase inhibitors and adamantanes, are approved for prophylaxis and therapy against influenza virus infections. A major concern is that influenza virus becomes resistant to these antiviral drugs and spreads in the human population. The 2009 pandemic A/H1N1 influenza virus is naturally resistant to adamantanes. Recently a novel neuraminidase I223R mutation was identified in an A/H1N1 virus showing cross-resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir, zanamivir and peramivir. However, the ability of this virus to cause disease and spread in the human population is unknown. Therefore, this clinical isolate (NL/2631-R223) was compared with a well-characterized reference virus (NL/602). In vitro experiments showed that NL/2631-I223R replicated as well as NL/602 in MDCK cells. In a ferret pathogenesis model, body weight loss was similar in animals inoculated with NL/2631-R223 or NL/602. In addition, pulmonary lesions were similar at day 4 post inoculation. However, at day 7 post inoculation, NL/2631-R223 caused milder pulmonary lesions and degree of alveolitis than NL/602. This indicated that the mutant virus was less pathogenic. Both NL/2631-R223 and a recombinant virus with a single I223R change (recNL/602-I223R), transmitted among ferrets by aerosols, despite observed attenuation of recNL/602-I223R in vitro. In conclusion, the I223R mutated virus isolate has comparable replicative ability and transmissibility, but lower pathogenicity than the reference virus based on these in vivo studies. This implies that the 2009 pandemic influenza A/H1N1 virus subtype with an isoleucine to arginine change at position 223 in the neuraminidase has the potential to spread in the human population. It is important to be vigilant for this mutation in influenza surveillance and to continue efforts to increase the arsenal of antiviral drugs to combat influenza.
Recently, a 2009 pandemic A/H1N1 influenza virus was isolated from an immune compromised patient, with antiviral resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitor class of drugs. This virus had an amino acid change in the viral neuraminidase enzyme; an isoleucine at position 223 was substituted for an arginine (I223R). Patients infected with a pandemic virus that is resistant to all neuraminidase inhibitors, would leave physicians without antiviral treatment options, since these viruses are naturally resistant to the other class of antivirals, the adamantanes. To date, it is unknown if this I223R mutant virus is affected in its ability to cause severe disease and to transmit to other humans. Therefore, we have addressed this question by comparing the I223R mutant virus with a wild type reference virus in a ferret pathogenicity and transmission model. We found that the I223R mutant virus was not severely affected in its pathogenicity, although fewer lung lesions and alveolitis scores were found for the I223R mutant virus. In addition, we demonstrated that this virus transmitted efficiently to naïve ferrets. Consequently, we conclude that this I223R mutant virus has the potential to cause disease and may spread among humans. Therefore, influenza surveillance for this resistance pattern is advised.
The emergence of influenza viruses resistant to existing classes of antiviral drugs raises concern and there is a need for novel antiviral agents that could be used therapeutically or prophylacticaly. Surfactant protein D (SP-D) belongs to the family of C-type lectins which are important effector molecules of the innate immune system with activity against bacteria and viruses, including influenza viruses. In the present study we evaluated the potential of recombinant porcine SP-D as an antiviral agent against influenza A viruses (IAVs) in vitro. To determine the range of antiviral activity, thirty IAVs of the subtypes H1N1, H3N2 and H5N1 that originated from birds, pigs and humans were selected and tested for their sensitivity to recombinant SP-D. Using these viruses it was shown by hemagglutination inhibition assay, that recombinant porcine SP-D was more potent than recombinant human SP-D and that especially higher order oligomeric forms of SP-D had the strongest antiviral activity. Porcine SP-D was active against a broad range of IAV strains and neutralized a variety of H1N1 and H3N2 IAVs, including 2009 pandemic H1N1 viruses. Using tissue sections of ferret and human trachea, we demonstrated that recombinant porcine SP-D prevented attachment of human seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 virus to receptors on epithelial cells of the upper respiratory tract. It was concluded that recombinant porcine SP-D holds promise as a novel antiviral agent against influenza and further development and evaluation in vivo seems warranted.
Serum antibodies induced by seasonal influenza or seasonal influenza vaccination exhibit limited or no cross-reactivity against the 2009 pandemic swine-origin influenza virus of the H1N1 subtype (pH1N1). Ferrets immunized once or twice with MF59-adjuvanted seasonal influenza vaccine exhibited significantly reduced lung virus titers but no substantial clinical protection against pH1N1-associated disease. However, priming with MF59-adjuvanted seasonal influenza vaccine significantly increased the efficacy of a pandemic MF59-adjuvanted influenza vaccine against pH1N1 challenge. Elucidating the mechanism involved in this priming principle will contribute to our understanding of vaccine- and infection-induced correlates of protection. Furthermore, a practical consequence of these findings is that during an emerging pandemic, the implementation of a priming strategy with an available adjuvanted seasonal vaccine to precede the eventual pandemic vaccination campaign may be useful and life-saving.
The ability to attach to host cells is one of the main determinants of the host range of influenza A viruses. By using virus histochemistry, we investigate the pattern of virus attachment of both a human and an avian influenza virus in colon and trachea sections from 12 wild bird species. We show that significant variations exist, even between closely related avian species, which suggests that the ability of wild birds to serve as hosts for influenza viruses strongly varies among species. These results will prove valuable to assess the possibilities of interspecies transmission of influenza viruses in natural environments and better understand the ecology of influenza.
We investigated the development of pulmonary lesions in ferrets by means of computed tomography (CT) following infection with the 2009 pandemic A/H1N1 influenza virus and compared the scans with gross pathology, histopathology and immunohistochemistry. Ground-glass opacities observed by CT scanning in all infected lungs corresponded to areas of alveolar oedema at necropsy. These areas were most pronounced on day 3 and gradually decreased from days 4 to 7 post-infection. This pilot study shows that the non-invasive imaging procedure allows quantification and characterization of influenza-induced pulmonary lesions in living animals under biosafety level 3 conditions and can thus be used in pre-clinical pharmaceutical efficacy studies.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) of the subtype H5N1 causes severe, often fatal pneumonia in humans. The pathogenesis of HPAIV H5N1 infection is not completely understood, although the alveolar macrophage (AM) is thought to play an important role. HPAIV H5N1 infection of macrophages cultured from monocytes leads to high percentages of infection accompanied by virus production and an excessive pro-inflammatory immune response. However, macrophages cultured from monocytes are different from AM, both in phenotype and in response to seasonal influenza virus infection. Consequently, it remains unclear whether the results of studies with macrophages cultured from monocytes are valid for AM. Therefore we infected AM and for comparison macrophages cultured from monocytes with seasonal H3N2 virus, HPAIV H5N1 or pandemic H1N1 virus, and determined the percentage of cells infected, virus production and induction of TNF-alpha, a pro-inflammatory cytokine. In vitro HPAIV H5N1 infection of AM compared to that of macrophages cultured from monocytes resulted in a lower percentage of infected cells (up to 25% vs up to 84%), lower virus production and lower TNF-alpha induction. In vitro infection of AM with H3N2 or H1N1 virus resulted in even lower percentages of infected cells (up to 7%) than with HPAIV H5N1, while virus production and TNF-alpha induction were comparable. In conclusion, this study reveals that macrophages cultured from monocytes are not a good model to study the interaction between AM and these influenza virus strains. Furthermore, the interaction between HPAIV H5N1 and AM could contribute to the pathogenicity of this virus in humans, due to the relative high percentage of infected cells rather than virus production or an excessive TNF-alpha induction.
Alveolar macrophages (AM), which reside in the alveolar lumen, usually dampen down the host immune response to incoming pathogens. However, they are thought to increase inflammation during highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 infections, which cause severe and often fatal disease in humans. This is based on experiments with human macrophages cultured from monocytes rather than with human AM. Here we show that human AM, collected via broncho-alveolar lavage from healthy volunteers, can become infected with HPAIV H5N1. However, this results in neither induction of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha nor virus production. Therefore, AM are most likely not responsible for the excessive cytokine response or high viral load during human HPAIV H5N1 infections as assumed previously. These data significantly changes our insight into the pathogenesis of HPAIV H5N1 pneumonia in humans, indicating that other cells than AM must be responsible for the excessive pro-inflammatory cytokine profile observed during HPAIV H5N1 infections.
The clinical impact of the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus (pdmH1N1) has been relatively low. However, amino acid substitution D222G in the hemagglutinin of pdmH1N1 has been associated with cases of severe disease and fatalities. D222G was introduced in a prototype pdmH1N1 by reverse genetics, and the effect on virus receptor binding, replication, antigenic properties, and pathogenesis and transmission in animal models was investigated. pdmH1N1 with D222G caused ocular disease in mice without further indications of enhanced virulence in mice and ferrets. pdmH1N1 with D222G retained transmissibility via aerosols or respiratory droplets in ferrets and guinea pigs. The virus displayed changes in attachment to human respiratory tissues in vitro, in particular increased binding to macrophages and type II pneumocytes in the alveoli and to tracheal and bronchial submucosal glands. Virus attachment studies further indicated that pdmH1N1 with D222G acquired dual receptor specificity for complex α2,3- and α2,6-linked sialic acids. Molecular dynamics modeling of the hemagglutinin structure provided an explanation for the retention of α2,6 binding. Altered receptor specificity of the virus with D222G thus affected interaction with cells of the human lower respiratory tract, possibly explaining the observed association with enhanced disease in humans.
Since emergence of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus in April 2009, three influenza A viruses—seasonal (H3N2), seasonal (H1N1), and pandemic (H1N1) 2009—have circulated in humans. Genetic reassortment between these viruses could result in enhanced pathogenicity. We compared 4 reassortant viruses with favorable in vitro replication properties with the wild-type pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus with respect to replication kinetics in vitro and pathogenicity and transmission in ferrets. Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 viruses containing basic polymerase 2 alone or in combination with acidic polymerase of seasonal (H1N1) virus were attenuated in ferrets. In contrast, pandemic (H1N1) 2009 with neuraminidase of seasonal (H3N2) virus resulted in increased virus replication and more severe pulmonary lesions. The data show that pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus has the potential to reassort with seasonal influenza viruses, which may result in increased pathogenicity while it maintains the capacity of transmission through aerosols or respiratory droplets.
Viruses; reassortment; pandemic (H1N1) 2009; influenza; H1N1; H3N2; pathogenicity; transmission; ferrets; research