5 years ago

Pig model mimicking chronic hepatitis E virus infection in immunocompromised patients to assess immune correlates during chronicity [Microbiology]

Pig model mimicking chronic hepatitis E virus infection in immunocompromised patients to assess immune correlates during chronicity [Microbiology]
Heng Wang, Nicholas Catanzaro, Sakthivel Subramaniam, Xiang–Jin Meng, Adam J. Rogers, C. Lynn Heffron, Sherrie Clark–Deener, Scott P. Kenney, Liȷuan Yuan, Nicole Lindstrom, Pablo Pineyro, Christopher Overend, Debin Tian, Danielle M. Yugo, Shannon R. Matzinger, Dianȷun Cao, Tanya LeRoith, Qian M. Cao

Chronic hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is a significant clinical problem in immunocompromised individuals such as organ transplant recipients, although the mechanism remains unknown because of the lack of an animal model. We successfully developed a pig model of chronic HEV infection and examined immune correlates leading to chronicity. The conditions of immunocompromised patients were mimicked by treating pigs with an immunosuppressive regimen including cyclosporine, azathioprine, and prednisolone. Immunocompromised pigs infected with HEV progressed to chronicity, because 8/10 drug-treated HEV-infected pigs continued fecal virus shedding beyond the acute phase of infection, whereas the majority (7/10) of mock-treated HEV-infected pigs cleared fecal viral shedding at 8 wk postinfection. During chronic infection, serum levels of the liver enzyme γ-glutamyl transferase and fecal virus shedding were significantly higher in immunocompromised HEV-infected pigs. To identify potential immune correlates of chronic infection, we determined serum levels of cytokines and cell-mediated immune responses in pigs. Results showed that HEV infection of immunocompromised pigs reduced the serum levels of Th1 cytokines IL-2 and IL-12, and Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-10, particularly during the acute phase of infection. Furthermore IFN-γ–specific CD4+ T-cell responses were reduced in immunocompromised pigs during the acute phase of infection, but TNF-α–specific CD8+ T-cell responses increased during the chronic phase of infection. Thus, active suppression of cell-mediated immune responses under immunocompromised conditions may facilitate the establishment of chronic HEV infection. This pig model will aid in delineating the mechanisms of chronic HEV infection and in developing effective therapeutics against chronic hepatitis E.

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