Falko graduated as a veterinarian in 1990 from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Berlin, Germany, and subsequently obtained his post-graduate degrees there (1994, 2004). After a time as post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Virology at the Free University of Berlin, he moved to the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, also in Berlin, to lead the immunology team. In 2005, he moved to what is now known as the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Weybridge. In 2001, Falko was a founding member of the European Veterinary Immunology Group (EVIG), which he chaired until 2012, and has organised national and international meetings for veterinary immunologists. Falko is a member of several national and international scientific societies and a member of the editorial board for three journals (TBED, Front.Immunol., Vaccines). Since July 2014, Falko has been a Professor for Veterinary Immunology at the School of Veterinary Medicine in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey.
Falko's research interest is in host-pathogen interaction and the modulation of immune reactions, where the long-term aim is to create better vaccines for infectious diseases and other types of diseases. To this end, his particular interest is in systems immunology, the biology of dendritic cells and the immune system of horses and other animals.
University of Berne, Switzerland
USP & Albert Einstein Hospital, São Paulo
MSc Veterinary Microbiology
Member of Journal Editorial Boards
Frossard, J.P., Hughes, G.J., Westcott, D.G., Naidu, B., Williamson, S., Woodger, N.G., Steinbach, F., Drew, T.W., (2013).
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus: Genetic diversity of recent British isolates.
Vet Microbiol, 162, 507-18
Strong, R., Errington, J., Cook, R., Ross-Smith, N., Wakeley, P., Steinbach, F., (2013).
Increased phylogenetic diversity of bovine viral diarrhoea virus type 1 isolates in England and Wales since 2001.
Vet Microbiol, 162, 315-320
Morgan, S.B., Graham, S.P., Salguero, F.J., Sanchez Cordon, P.J., Mokhtar, H., Rebel, J.M., Weesendorp, E., Bodman-Smith, K.B., Steinbach, F., Frossard, J.P., (2013).
Increased pathogenicity of European porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus is associated with enhanced adaptive responses and viral clearance.
Veterinary microbiology 163, 13-22
Moyo, N.A., Marchi, E., Steinbach, F. (2013).
Differentiation and activation of equine monocyte-derived dendritic cells is not correlated with CD206 or CD83 expression.
Immunology, 139, 472-83
Wilkie, G.S., Davison, A.J., Watson, M., Kerr, K., Sanderson, S., Bouts, T., Steinbach, F., Dastjerdi, A., (2013). Complete genome sequences of elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses 1A and 1B determined directly from fatal cases. Journal of Virology, 87, 6700-12
Choudhury B, Finnegan C, Frossard JP, Venables C, Steinbach F (2013)
Detection of Bovine Leukaemia Virus Antibodies and Proviral DNA in Colostrum Replacers.
Emerg Infect Dis., 19, 1027-28
Hamza, E., Akdis, C.A., Wagner, B., Steinbach, F., Marti, E., (2013)
In vitro induction of functional allergen-specific CD4+ CD25high Treg cells in horses affected with insect bite hypersensitivity.
Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 43, 889-901
Wescott, D.G., Mildenberg, Z., Bellaiche, M., McGowan, S.L., Grierson, S.S., Choudhury, B., Steinbach, F., (2013)
Evidence for the Circulation of Equine Encephalosis Virus in Israel since 2001.
PloS one 8, e70532
Furuse Y, Dastjerdi A, Seilern-Moy K, Steinbach F, Cullen BR. (2014)
Analysis of viral microRNA expression by elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 1
Wilkie GS, Davison AJ, Kerr K, Stidworthy MF, Redrobe S, Steinbach F, Dastjerdi A, Denk D. (2014)
First fatality associated with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 5 in an Asian elephant: pathological findings and complete viral genome sequence.
Sci Rep. Sep 9;4:6299. doi: 10.1038/srep06299
Steinbach F, Westcott DG, McGowan SL, Grierson SS, Frossard JP, Choudhury B. (2015)
Re-emergence of a genetic outlier strain of equine arteritis virus: Impact on phylogeny.
Virus research, 202: 144-150
Salguero FJ, Frossard JP, Rebel JM, Stadejek T, Morgan SB, Graham SP, Steinbach, F.. (2015)
Host-pathogen interactions during porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus 1 infection of piglets.
Virus research, 202: 135-143
Hamza E, Mirkovitch J, Steinbach F, Marti E. (2015)
Regulatory T Cells in Early Life: Comparative Study of CD4+CD25high T Cells from Foals and Adult Horses.
PLoS One. Mar 19;10:e0120661. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120661
Barnett J, Dastjerdi A, Davison N, Deaville R, Everest D, Peake J, Steinbach F.. (2015)
Identification of Novel Cetacean Poxviruses in Cetaceans Stranded in South West England.
PloS one, 10(6): e0124315
Molenaar FM, La Rocca SA, Khatri M, Lopez J, Steinbach F, Dastjerdi A.
Exposure of Asian Elephants and Other Exotic Ungulates to Schmallenberg Virus.
PloS one 2015, 10(8): e0135532
Grierson S, Heaney J, Cheney T, Morgan D, Wyllie S, Powell L, Smith D, Ijaz S, Steinbach F, Choudhury B, Tedder RS (2015)
Prevalence of Hepatitis E Virus Infection in Pigs at the Time of Slaughter, United Kingdom, 2013. Emerging infectious diseases, 21(8): 1396-1401
Dastjerdi A, Carr J, Ellis RJ, Steinbach F, Williamson S. (2015)
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus among Farmed Pigs, Ukraine.
Emerging infectious diseases, 21(12): 2235-2237
Strong R, La Rocca SA, Paton D, Bensaude E, Sandvik T, Davis L, Turner J, Drew T, Raue R, Vangeel I, Steinbach F (2015)
Viral Dose and Immunosuppression Modulate the Progression of Acute BVDV-1 Infection in Calves: Evidence of Long Term Persistence after Intra-Nasal Infection. PloS one, 10(5): e0124689
Garcia-Nicolas O, Rosales RS, Pallares FJ, Risco D, Quereda JJ, Graham SP, Frossard JP, Morgan SB, Steinbach F, Drew TW, Strickland TS, Salguero FJ. (2015)
Comparative analysis of cytokine transcript profiles within mediastinal lymph node compartments of pigs after infection with PRRSV-1 strains differing in pathogenicity.
Veterinary Res., 46: 34
Walters AA, Somavarapu S, Riitho V, Stewart GR, Charleston B, Steinbach F, Graham SP (2015)
Assessment of the enhancement of PLGA nanoparticle uptake by dendritic cells through the addition of natural receptor ligands and monoclonal antibody.
Vaccine, 33: 6588-6595
Mokhtar, H., Pedrera, M., Frossard, J.P., Biffar, L., Hammer, S.E., Kvisgaard, L.K., Larsen, L.E., Stewart, G.R., Somavarapu, S., Steinbach, F., Graham, S.P., 2016.
The Non-structural Protein 5 and Matrix Protein Are Antigenic Targets of T Cell Immunity to Genotype 1 Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Viruses.
Frontiers in Immunology 7, 40
Amarilla, S.P., Gomez-Laguna, J., Carrasco, L., Rodriguez-Gomez, I.M., Caridad, Y.O.J.M., Graham, S.P., Frossard, J.P., Steinbach, F., Salguero, F.J., 2016.
Thymic depletion of lymphocytes is associated with the virulence of PRRSV-1 strains.
Veterinary Microbiology 188, 47-58
Morgan, S.B., Frossard, J.P., Pallares, F.J., Gough, J., Stadejek, T., Graham, S.P., Steinbach, F., Drew, T.W., Salguero, F.J., 2016.
Pathology and Virus Distribution in the Lung and Lymphoid Tissues of Pigs Experimentally Inoculated with Three Distinct Type 1 PRRS Virus Isolates of Varying Pathogenicity. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 63, 285-295
Dastjerdi, A., Seilern-Moy, K., Darpel, K., Steinbach, F., Molenaar, F., 2016.
Surviving and fatal Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus-1A infections in juvenile Asian elephants - lessons learned and recommendations on anti-herpesviral therapy.
BMC Veterinary Research 12, 178
Singleton, H., Graham, S.P., Bodman-Smith, K.B., Frossard, J.P., Steinbach, F., 2016.
Establishing Porcine Monocyte-Derived Macrophage and Dendritic Cell Systems for Studying the Interaction with PRRSV-1.
Frontiers in Microbiology 7, 832
Choudhury, B., Dastjerdi, A., Doyle, N., Frossard, J.P., Steinbach, F., 2016. From the field to the lab - An European view on the global spread of PEDV.
Virus Res., 226, 40-49
Abutarbush, S.M., La Rocca, A., Wernike, K., Beer, M., Al Zuraikat, K., Al Sheyab, O.M., Talafha, A.Q., Steinbach, F., 2017.
Circulation of a Simbu Serogroup Virus, Causing Schmallenberg Virus-Like Clinical Signs in Northern Jordan.
Transbound Emerg Dis 64, 1095-1099
Edwards, J.C., Everett, H.E., Pedrera, M., Mokhtar, H., Marchi, E., Soldevila, F., Kaveh, D.A., Hogarth, P.J., Johns, H.L., Nunez-Garcia, J., Steinbach, F., Crooke, H.R., Graham, S.P., 2017.
CD1- and CD1+ porcine blood dendritic cells are enriched for the orthologues of the two major mammalian conventional subsets.
Nat Sci Rep 7, 40942
Amarilla, S.P., Gomez-Laguna, J., Carrasco, L., Rodriguez-Gomez, I.M., Caridad, Y.O.J.M., Graham, S.P., Frossard, J.P., Steinbach, F., Salguero, F.J., 2017.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome type 1 viruses induce hypoplasia of erythroid cells and myeloid cell hyperplasia in the bone marrow of experimentally infected piglets independently of the viral load and virulence.
Vet Microbiol 201, 126-135
Frossard, J.P., Grierson, S., Cheney, T., Steinbach, F., Choudhury, B., Williamson, S., 2017.
UK pigs at the time of slaughter: Investigation into the correlation of infection with PRRSV and HEV.
Viruses 9, June 9; pii: E110. doi: 10.3390/v9060110
Mokhtar, H., Biffar, L., Somavarapu, S., Frossard, J.P., McGowan, S., Pedrera, M., Strong, R., Edwards, J.C., Garcia-Duran, M., Rodriguez, M.J., Stewart, G.R., Steinbach, F., Graham, S.P., 2017. Evaluation of hydrophobic chitosan-based particulate formulations of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus vaccine candidate T cell antigens.
Vet Microbiol. 209, 66-74. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2017.01.037
Riitho, V., Walters, A., Somavarapu S., Lamp, B, Rümenapf, T., Krey, T., Rey, F., Oviedo-Orta, E., Stewart, G., Locker, N., Steinbach, F. & Graham, S. 2017
Design and evaluation of the immunogenicity and efficacy of a biomimetic particulate formulation of viral antigens
Nat Sci Rep 7, 13743 DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-13915-x
Rasmussen T, Boniotti M, Papetti A, Grasland B, Frossard JP, Dastjerdi A, Hulst M, Hanke D, Pohlmann A, Blome S, v.d. Poel W, Steinbach F, Blanchard Y, Lavazza A, Bøtner A, Belsham G. 2018
Full-length genome sequences of porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus strain CV777; Use of NGS to analyse genomic and sub-genomic RNAs.
PLoS One. 2018 Mar 1;13(3):e0193682. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193682
McGowan, S., Dastjerdi, A., La Rocca, A., Choudhury, B., Steinbach, F., (2018)
Incursion of Schmallenberg virus into Great Britain 2011 and emergence of variant strains in 2016
The Veterinary Journal, 234, 77-84 doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2018.02.001.
Singleton, H., Graham, S.P., Frossard, J.P., Bodman-Smith, K.B., Steinbach, F., (2018)
Infection of monocytes with European porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV-1) strain Lena is significantly enhanced by dexamethasone and IL-10
Virology, 517, 199-207 doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2018.02.017.
Strong R, Graham SP, La Rocca SA, Raue R, Vangeel I, Steinbach F, (2018)
Establishment of a Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus Type 2 Intranasal Challenge Model for Assessing Vaccine Efficacy.
Front Vet Sci, 5:24. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00024.
Riitho V, Larska M, Strong R, La Rocca SA, Locker N, Alenius S, Steinbach F, Liu L, Uttenthal Å, Graham SP (2018)
Comparative analysis of adaptive immune responses following experimental infections of cattle with bovine viral diarrhoea virus-1 and an Asiatic atypical ruminant pestivirus.
Vaccine, 36, 4494-4500. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.06.019.
Soldevila F, Edwards JC, Graham SP, Stevens LM, Crudgington B, Crooke HR, Werling D & Steinbach F (2018)
Characterization of the Myeloid Cell Populations Resident in the Porcine Palatine Tonsil.
Front. Immunol. 9:1800 doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01800
Grierson S., McGowan S., Cook C, Steinbach F, Choudhury B. (2019)
Molecular and in vitro characterisation of hepatitis E virus from UK pigs
Virology, 527, 116-121. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2018.10.018.
McCarthy RR, Everett HE, Graham SP, Steinbach F, Crooke HR (2019)
Head Start Immunity: Characterizing the Early Protection of C Strain Vaccine Against Subsequent Classical Swine Fever Virus Infection.
Front Immunol. 2019 Jul 23;10:1584. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01584.
Kazemimanesh M, Madadgar O, Steinbach F, Choudhury B, Azadmanesh K (2019)
Detection and molecular characterization of bovine leukemia virus in various regions of Iran.
J Gen Virol. 100, 1315-1327 doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.001303.
Dorey-Robinson DLW, Locker N, Steinbach F, Choudhury B. (2019)
Molecular characterization of equine infectious anaemia virus strains detected in England in 2010 and 2012.
Transbound Emerg Dis. 2019 66:2311–2317 doi: 10.1111/tbed.13286.
McCleary S, Strong R, McCarthy RR, Edwards JC, Howes EL, Stevens LM, Sánchez-Cordón PJ, Núñez A, Watson S, Mileham AJ, Lillico SG, Tait-Burkard C, Proudfoot C, Ballantyne M, Whitelaw CBA, Steinbach F, Crooke HR (2020)
Substitution of warthog NF-κB motifs into RELA of domestic pigs is not sufficient to confer resilience to African swine fever virus
Nat Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 2;10:8951. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-65808-1.
Wernike K, Reimann I, Banyard AC, Kraatz F, La Rocca SA, Hoffmann B, McGowan S, Hechinger S, Choudhury B, Aebischer A, Steinbach F, Beer M. (2021)
High genetic variability of Schmallenberg virus M- segment leads to efficient immune escape from neutralizing antibodies.
PLoS Pathog 17(1): e1009247. doi: 10.1371/journal. ppat.1009247
Soldevila F, Edwards JC, Graham SP, Crooke HR, Werling D & Steinbach F (2021)
Activation of Dendritic Cells in Tonsils Is Associated with CD8 T Cell Responses following Vaccination with Live Attenuated Classical Swine Fever Virus
Int. J. Mol. Sci., 22, 8795. https://doi.org/10.3390 /ijms22168795
Meek, S. Watson, T., Eory, L., McFarlane, G., ……… Archibald, A.L., Steinbach, F., Crooke, H.R., Gao, X., Liu, P. & Burdon, T. (2022)
Stem cell-derived porcine macrophages as a new platform for studying host-pathogen interactions
BMC Biology (2022) 20:14 doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-01217-8
Dastjerdi A., LaRoccaS.A., Karuna S., Finnegan C., Peake J. & Steinbach, F. (2022)
Examining bull semen for residues of Schmallenberg virus RNA
TBED, vol 69, e153-e160, DOI: 10.1111/tbed.14275
Strong R, McCleary S, Grierson S, Choudhury B, Steinbach F and Crooke HR (2022)
Molecular Epidemiology Questions Transmission Pathways Identified During the Year 2000 Outbreak of Classical Swine Fever in the UK.
Front. Microbiol. 13:909396. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.909396
Moyo, N.A.; Westcott, D.; Simmonds, R. & Steinbach, F. (2023)
Equine Arteritis Virus in Monocytic Cells Suppresses Differentiation and Function of Dendritic Cells.
Viruses,15,255. doi.org/ 10.3390/v15010255
The last outbreak of classical swine fever (CSF) in the UK occurred in 2000. A total of 16 domestic pig holdings in the East Anglia region were confirmed as infected over a 3-month period. Obtaining viral genome sequences has since become easier and more cost-effective and has accordingly been applied to trace viral transmission events for a variety of viruses. The rate of genetic evolution varies for different viruses and is influenced by different transmission events, which will vary according to the epidemiology of an outbreak. To examine if genetic changes over the course of any future CSF outbreak would occur to supplement epidemiological investigations and help to track virus movements, the E2 gene and full genome of the virus present in archived tonsil samples from 14 of these infected premises were sequenced. Insufficient changes occurred in the full E2 gene to discriminate between the viruses from the different premises. In contrast, between 5 and 14 nucleotide changes were detected between the genome sequence of the virus from the presumed index case and the sequences from the other 13 infected premises. Phylogenetic analysis of these full CSFV genome sequences identified clusters of closely related viruses that allowed to corroborate some of the transmission pathways inferred by epidemiological investigations at the time. However, other sequences were more distinct and raised questions about the virus transmission routes previously implicated. We are thus confident that in future outbreaks, real-time monitoring of the outbreak via full genome sequencing will be beneficial.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) continues to be a significant problem for European pig producers, contributing to porcine respiratory disease complex, neonatal piglet mortality, infertility and occasional abortion storms. PRRS virus (PRRSV), a member of the arterivirus family with two defined major genotypes, has been shown to be quite genetically diverse. In the present study, genetic analysis of multiple gene regions of over 100 viruses isolated in Britain between 2003 and 2007 revealed that the diversity of British strains is now far greater than during the early 1990s. All isolates belong to genotype 1 (European). While some recent isolates are still very similar to early isolates, a wide range of more diverse viruses is now also circulating. Interestingly, some isolates were found to be very similar to a modified-live vaccine strain, and it is suggested that use of the vaccine has affected the evolution pattern of PRRS virus strains in Britain. Evidence of deletions in one viral gene, ORF3, and of genome recombination was also seen. A molecular clock model using the ORF7 sequences estimates the rate of substitution as 3.8 × 10(-3) per site per year, thereby dating the most recent common ancestor of all British viruses to 1991, coincident with the first outbreak of disease. Our findings therefore have implications for both the diagnostic and prophylactic methods currently being used, which are discussed.
Monocyte-derived macrophages (MoMØ) and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDC) are two model systems well established in human and rodent systems that can be used to study the interaction of pathogens with host cells. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is known to infect myeloid cells, such as macrophages (MØ) and dendritic cells (DC). Therefore, this study aimed to establish systems for the differentiation and characterization of MoMØ and MoDC for subsequent infection with PRRSV-1. M-CSF differentiated monocyte-derived macrophages (MoMØ) were stimulated with activators for classical (M1) or alternative (M2) activation. GM-CSF and IL-4 generated monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDC) were activated with the well established maturation cocktail containing PAMPs and cytokines. In addition, MoMØ and MoDC were treated with dexamethasone and IL-10, which are known immuno-suppressive reagents. Cells were characterized by morphology, phenotype and function and porcine MØ subsets highlighted some divergence from described human counterparts, while MoDC, appeared more similar to mouse and human DCs. The infection with PRRSV-1 strain Lena demonstrated different replication kinetics between MoMØ and MoDC and within subsets of each cell type. While MoMØ susceptibility was significantly increased by dexamethasone and IL-10 with an accompanying increase in CD163/CD169 expression, MoDC supported only a minimal replication of PRRSV These findings underline the high variability in the susceptibility of porcine myeloid cells towards PRRSV-1 infection.
Classical Swine Fever Virus (CSFV) is an ongoing threat to the pig industry due to its high transmission and mortality rates associated with infection. Live attenuated vaccines such as the CSFV C strain vaccine are capable of protecting against infection within 5 days of vaccination, but the molecular mechanisms through which this early protection is mediated have yet to be established. In this study, we compared the response of pigs vaccinated with the C strain to non-vaccinated pigs both challenged with a pathogenic strain of CSFV. Analysis of transcriptomic data from the tonsils of these animals during the early stages after vaccination and challenge reveals a set of regulated genes that appear throughout the analysis. Many of these are linked to the ISG15 antiviral pathway suggesting it plays a key role in the rapid and early protection conferred by C strain vaccination.
Conventional dendritic cells (cDC) are professional antigen-presenting cells that induce immune activation or tolerance. Two functionally specialised populations, termed cDC1 and cDC2, have been described in humans, mice, ruminants and recently in pigs. Pigs are an important biomedical model species and a key source of animal protein; therefore further understanding of their immune system will help underpin the development of disease prevention strategies. To characterise cDC populations in porcine blood, DC were enriched from PBMC by CD14 depletion and CD172a enrichment then stained with a lineage mAbs (Lin; CD3, CD8α, CD14 and CD21) and mAbs specific for CD172a, CD1 and CD4. Two distinct porcine cDC subpopulations were FACSorted CD1- cDC (Lin-CD172+CD1-CD4-) and CD1+ cDC (Lin- CD172a+CD1+CD4-), and characterised by phenotypic and functional analyses. CD1+ cDC were distinct from CD1- cDC, expressing higher levels of CD172a, MHC class II and CD11b. Following TLR stimulation, CD1+ cDC produced IL-8 and IL-10 while CD1- cDC secreted IFN-α, IL-12 and TNF-α. CD1- cDC were superior in stimulating allogeneic T cell responses and in cross-presenting viral antigens to CD8 T cells. Comparison of transcriptional profiles further suggested that the CD1- and CD1+ populations were enriched for the orthologues of cDC1 and cDC2 subsets respectively.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is an emerging Orthobunyavirus, first described in 2011 in cattle in Germany and subsequently spread throughout Europe, affecting mainly ruminant livestock through the induction of foetal malformations. To gain a better understanding of the spectrum of susceptible species and to assess the value of current SBV serological assays, screening of serum samples from exotic artiodactyls and perissodactyls collected at the Living Collections from the Zoological Society of London (Whipsnade and London Zoos) and Chester Zoo was carried out. There was compelling evidence of SBV infection in both zoological collections. The competitive ELISA has proved to be applicable for the detection of SBV in exotic Bovidae, Cervidae, Suidae, Giraffidae and most notably in endangered Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), but unreliable for the screening of Camelidae, for which the plaque reduction neutralisation test was considered the assay of choice.
Currently, there are two recognised genotypes of Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), type 1 and type 2. These genotypes are divided into subtypes based on phylogenetic analysis, namely a-p for BVDV-1 and a-c for BVDV-2. Within this study, the genetic heterogeneity of BVDV-1 in England and Wales was investigated and compared to the situation in 1996/1997. Viral RNA was extracted from 316 blood samples collected between 2004 and 2009 that were previously identified as BVDV-1 positive. A region of the 5' untranslated region (UTR) was amplified by RT-PCR and the PCR products were sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis of the 5'UTR demonstrated the existence of five subtypes of BVDV-1 circulating in England and Wales, namely BVDV-1a (244 samples), BVDV-1b (50), BVDV-1e (3), BVDV-1f (1) and BVDV-1i (18). Phylogenetic analysis of the nucleotide sequence for the N(pro) region of the viral genome supported the classification obtained with the 5'UTR. Given the fact that only three subtypes were detected in 1999 this report supports the notion that the restocking of cattle from continental Europe, after the mass culling during the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak in 2001 and slaughter of cattle due to bovine tuberculosis infection, has increased the genetic diversity of BVDV-1 subtypes in England and Wales in the past 10 years.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) is a member of the genus Alphacoronavirus, in the family Coronaviridae, of the Nidovirales order and outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) were first recorded in England in the 1970s. Intriguingly the virus has since successfully made its way around the globe, while seemingly becoming extinct in parts of Europe before its recent return from Northern America. In this review we are re-evaluating the spread of PEDV, its biology and are looking at lessons learnt from both failure and success. While a new analysis of PEDV genomes demonstrates a wider heterogeneity of PEDV than previously anticipated with at least five rather than two genotypes, biological features of the virus and its replication also point towards credible control strategies to limit the impact of this re-emerging virus.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and are both globally prevalent in the pig population. While HEV does not cause clinical disease in pigs, its zoonotic potential has raised concerns in the food safety sector. PRRS has become endemic in the United Kingdom (UK) since its introduction in 1991, and continues to cause considerable economic losses to the swine industry. A better understanding of the current prevalence and diversity of PRRSV and HEV in the UK, and their potential association, is needed to assess risks and target control measures appropriately. This study used plasma, tonsil, and cecal content samples previously collected from pigs in 14 abattoirs in England and Northern Ireland to study the prevalence of several pathogens including PRRSV and HEV. The diversity of PRRSV strains detected in these samples was analyzed by sequencing open reading frame 5 (ORF5), revealing no substantial difference in PRRSV strains from these clinically unaffected pigs relative to those from clinical cases of disease in the UK. Despite the potential immuno-modulatory effect of PRRSV infection, previously demonstrated to affect Salmonella and HEV shedding profiles, no significant association was found between positive PRRSV status and positive HEV status.
The objective of this study was to develop a bovine viral diarrhoea virus type 2 (BVDV-2) challenge model suitable for evaluation of efficacy of BVDV vaccines; a model that mimics natural infection and induces clear leucopoenia and viraemia. Clinical, haematological and virological parameters were evaluated after infection of two age groups of calves (3 months and 9 months) with two BVDV-2 strains (1362727 and 502643). Calves became pyrexic between 8-9 days post inoculation and exhibited symptoms such as nasal discharge, mild depression, cough and inappetance. Leukopenia with associated lymphopenia and neutropenia was evident in all groups with lowest leukocyte and lymphocyte counts reached 8dpi and granulocyte counts between 11 and 16 dpi, dependent on the strain and age of the calves. A more severe thrombocytopeania was seen in those animals inoculated with strain 1362727. Leukocyte and nasal swab samples were positive by virus isolation, as early as 3 dpi and 2 dpi respectively, independent of the inocula used. All calves seroconverted with high levels of BVDV-2 neutralising antibodies. BVDV RNA was evident as late as 90 dpi and provides the first evidence of the presence of replicating virus long after recovery from BVDV-2 experimental infection. In summary, moderate disease can be induced after experimental infection of calves with a low titre (104.8 or 105.0 TCID50) of virulent BVDV-2, with leucopoenia, thrombocytopoenia, viraemia and virus shedding. These strains represent an attractive model to assess the protective efficacy of existing and new vaccines against BVDV-2.
PRRS control is hampered by the inadequacies of existing vaccines to combat the extreme diversity of circulating viruses. Since immune clearance of PRRSV infection may not be dependent on the development of neutralising antibodies and the identification of broadly- neutralising antibody epitopes have proven elusive we hypothesised that conserved T cell antigens represent potential candidates for development of a novel PRRS vaccine. Previously we had identified the M and NSP5 proteins as well-conserved targets of polyfunctional CD8 and CD4 T cells. To assess their vaccine potential, peptides representing M and NSP5 were encapsulated in hydrophobically-modified chitosan particles adjuvanted by incorporation of a synthetic multi-TLR2/TLR7 agonist and coated with a model B cell PRRSV antigen. For comparison, empty particles and adjuvanted particles encapsulating inactivated PRRSV-1
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has caused extensive economic losses to pig producers in many countries. It was recently introduced, for the first time, into North America and outbreaks have occurred again in multiple countries within Europe as well. To assess the properties of various diagnostic assays for the detection of PEDV infection, multiple panels of porcine sera have been shared and tested for the presence of antibodies against PEDV in an inter-laboratory ring trial. Different laboratories have used a variety of “in house” ELISAs and also one commercial assay. The sensitivity and specificity of each assay has been estimated using a Bayesian analysis applied to the ring trial results obtained with the different assays in the absence of a gold standard. Although different characteristics were found, it can be concluded that each of the assays used can detect infection of pigs at a herd level by either the early European strains of PEDV or the recently circulating strains (INDEL and non-INDEL). However, not all the assays seem suitable for demonstrating freedom from disease in a country. The results from individual animals, especially when the infection has occurred within an experimental situation, show more variation.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is widespread in the global pig population. Although clinically inapparent in pigs, HEV infection is the cause of Hepatitis E in humans and transmission via the food chain has been established. Following a 2013 study that investigated prevalence of HEV infection in UK slaughter-age pigs samples indicating highest viral load were selected for further characterisation. High throughput sequencing was used to obtain the complete coding sequence from five samples. An in-frame insertion was observed within the HEV hypervariable region in two samples. To interrogate whether this mutation may be the cause of high-level viraemia and faecal shedding as observed in the sampled pigs virus isolation and culture was conducted. Based on viral growth kinetics there was no evidence that these insertions affected replication efficiency in vitro, suggesting as yet undetermined host factors may affect the course of infection and consequently the risk of foodborne transmission.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) exists as two distinct viruses, type 1 (PRRSV-1) and type 2 (PRRSV-2). Atrophy of the thymus in PRRSV-2 infected piglets has been associated with a loss of thymocytes. The present study aimed to evaluate the impact of PRRSV-1 strains of differing virulence on the thymus of infected piglets by analysing the histomorphometry, the presence of apoptotic cells and cells producing cytokines. Thymic samples were taken from animals experimentally infected (with LV, SU1-bel, and 215-06 strains) or mock inoculated animals at 3, 7 and 35 days post-infection (dpi) and processed for histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses. PRRSV antigen was detected in the thymus from 3dpi until the end of the study in all virus-infected animals with the highest numbers of infected cells detected in SU1-bel group. The histomorphometry analysis and counts of CD3+ thymocytes in the thymic cortex displayed significant differences between strains at different time-points (p ≤ 0.011), with SU1-bel group showing the most severe changes at 7dpi. Cell death displayed statistically significant increase in the cortex of all infected animals, with SU1-bel group showing the highest rate at 3 and 7dpi. The number of cells immunostained against IL-1α, TNF-α and IL-10 were predominantly detected in the medulla (p ≤ 0.01). An increase in the number of TNF-α and IL-10 positive cells was observed in LV and SU-1bel groups. Our results demonstrate that different PRRSV-1 strains induced depletion of the thymic cortex due to apoptosis of thymocytes and that the most severe depletion was associated with the highly virulent SU1-bel strain.
Applying palindromic nucleotide substitutions (PNS) method, variable loci of the internal ribosome entry site (IRES) secondary structure in the 5’ untranslated region (UTR) of Border Disease virus sequences were analysed allowing their allocation into ten IRES classes within the species. Sequence characteristics of Turkish and Chinese strains were highly divergent from other genogroups, indicating geographic segregation and micro-evolutive steps within the species. Observed heterogeneity in the BDV species has to be considered for potential implications on diagnostic tests, control and preventive measures.
Purpose. Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) infects cattle worldwide, imposing an economic impact on the dairy cattle industry. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the molecular epidemiology of BLV in Iran. Methodology. Blood samples taken from 280 cows aged over 2 years old from 13 provinces of Iran were used for leukocyte count and blocking ELISA. Genomic DNA was extracted from the peripheral blood leukocytes of BLV-infected samples and fetal lamb kidney cells to perform PCR of partial env, rex and tax genes and long-terminal-repeat region. The PCR products were sequenced, the phylogenetic tree of each gene was constructed, and nucleotide and amino acid sequence pair distances were calculated. Results. The frequency of BLV infection was 32.8 % among animals and was 80 % among provinces. In BLV seropositive animals, the rate of persistent lymphocytosis was 36.9 %. The constructed phylogenetic trees showed the presence of two BLV genotypes (1 and 4) in Iranian strains. As previous studies, our results showed that the env gene was more variable than previously thought, the Rex protein could withstand more amino acid changes compared to the Tax protein, and no significant differences were observed in average changes of the nucleotide of these genes between clinical stages. Conclusions. Our data indicates an increase in the frequency of this infection in Iran. This is the first study report of the presence of BLV genotype 4 in Iranian farms. These findings may have an important role in the control and prevention of BLV infection in Iran and other countries.
The palatine tonsil is the portal of entry for food and air, and is continuously subjected to environmental challenges including pathogens which use the tonsil and pharynx as a primary site of replication. In pigs, this includes the viruses causing porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome, and classical and African swine fever; diseases which have impacted the pig production industry globally. Despite the importance of tonsils in host defence, little is known regarding the phenotype of the myeloid cells resident in the porcine tonsil. Here, we have characterised five myeloid cell populations that align to orthologous populations defined in other mammalian species: a CD4+ plasmacytoid DC (pDC) defined by expression of the conserved markers E2.2 and IRF-7, a conventional dendritic cell (cDC1) population expressing CADM1highCD172alow and high levels of XCR1 able to activate allogeneic CD4 and CD8 T cells; a cDC2 population of CADM1dim cells expressing FLT3, IRF4 and CSF1R with an ability to activate allogeneic CD4 T cells; CD163+ macrophages (MƟs) defined by high levels of endocytosis and responsiveness to LPS and finally a CD14+ population likely derived from a myelo-monocytic lineage, which showed the highest levels of endocytosis, a capacity for activation of CD4+ memory cells, combined with lower relative expression of FLT3. Increased knowledge regarding the phenotypic and functional properties of myeloid cells resident in porcine tonsil, will enable these cells to be targeted for future vaccination strategies to current and emerging porcine viruses.
Equine infectious anaemia virus (EIAV) is a retrovirus with worldwide distribution which is notifiable to the OIE. Despite its importance to the equine industry, most information regarding its biology have been obtained using only two strains (EIAVWYO and EIAVLIA) from the USA and China, respectively. Recently full genome sequences from Ireland, Italy and Japan have been published; however, this is still not representative of the number of EIAV outbreaks experienced globally each year. The limited availability of published sequences makes design of a universal EIAV PCR difficult, hence diagnosis is solely reliant on serology. Accordingly, it is important to further investigate the re‐emerging cases in other areas of the world. Here, we provide information regarding the outbreaks of EIA in England in 2010 and 2012 including the molecular characterization of strains. Full genome was obtained for two symptomatic cases but could not be resolved for the asymptomatic cases. The two British genomes from 2010 (EIAVDEV) and 2012 (EIAVCOR) each represent a new phylogenetic group, each differing genetically from the other available full genome sequences by 21.1%–25.5%. That the majority of new EIAV full genome sequences to be published adds another phylogenetic group indicates that the surface of EIAV global diversity is just being scratched. These data highlight that further work is needed to fully understand EIAV genetic diversity, namely the full genome sequencing of EIAV cases from a variety of locations and time points. This would aid both the use of phylogenetics in parallel with horse tracing as the epidemiological tool of disease tracking and the design of a universally applicable molecular diagnostic method.
Atypical ruminant pestiviruses are closely related to the two bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) species, BVDV-1 and BVDV-2. While there is evidence of cross-protective immune responses between BVDV-1 and BVDV-2, despite antigenic differences, there is little information on the antigenic cross-reactivity with atypical ruminant pestiviruses. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the specificity of antibody and T cell responses induced by experimental infection of calves with BVDV-1 strain Ho916, Th/04_KhonKaen (TKK), an Asiatic atypical ruminant pestivirus, or co-infection with both viruses. Homologous virus neutralization was observed in sera from both single virus infected and co-infected groups, while cross-neutralization was only observed in the TKK infected group. T cell IFN-γ responses to both viruses were observed in the TKK infected animals, whereas Ho916 infected calves responded better to homologous virus. Specifically, IFN-γ responses to viral non-structural protein, NS3, were observed in all infected groups while responses to viral glycoprotein, E2, were virus-specific. Broader antigen-specific cytokine responses were observed with similar trends between inoculation groups and virus species. The limited T cell and antibody immune reactivity of Ho916 inoculated animals to TKK suggests that animals vaccinated with current BVDV-1-based vaccines may not be protected against atypical ruminant pestiviruses.
Infections of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can cause a rapid, highly lethal, hemorrhagic disease, which primarily affects juvenile animals up to the age of four years. So far, the majority of deaths have been attributed to infections with genotype EEHV1 or, more rarely, EEHV3 and EEHV4. Here, we report the pathological characteristics of the first fatality linked to EEHV5 infection, and describe the complete viral DNA sequence. Gross post-mortem and histological findings were indistinguishable from lethal cases previously attributed to other EEHV genotypes, and the presence of characteristic herpesviral inclusions in capillary endothelial cells at several sites was consistent with the diagnosis of acute EEHV infection. Molecular analysis confirmed the presence of EEHV5 DNA and was followed by sequencing of the viral genome directly from post-mortem material. The genome is 180,800 bp in size and contains 120 predicted protein-coding genes, five of which are fragmented and presumably nonfunctional. The seven families of paralogous genes recognized in EEHV1 are also represented in EEHV5. The overall degree of divergence (37%) between the EEHV5 and EEHV1 genomes, and phylogenetic analysis of eight conserved genes, support the proposed classification of EEHV5 into a new species (Elephantid herpesvirus 5).
Background: Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses (EEHVs) can cause acute haemorrhagic disease in young Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and clinical EEHV infections account for the majority of their fatalities. The antiherpesviral drug famciclovir (FCV) has been used routinely to treat viraemic at-risk elephants, but thus far without proven efficacy. This paper presents clinical and virological investigations of two EEHV-1A infected elephants treated with FCV, and discusses anti-herpesvirus therapies of viraemic elephants. Cases presentations: Two 1.5 year old male Asian elephants at a zoological collection in the UK developed clinical EEHV-1A infections. Case 1 showed signs of myalgia for the duration of 24 hours before returning back to normal. EEHV-1A DNAemia was confirmed on the day of clinical signs and continued to be present for 18 days in total. Trunk shedding of the virus commenced 10 days after detection of initial DNAemia. Case 2 tested positive for EEHV-1A DNAemia in a routine blood screening sample in the absence of clinical signs. The blood viral load increased exponentially leading up to fatal clinical disease seven days after initial detection of DNAemia. Both calves were treated with 15 mg/kg FCV per rectum on detection of DNAemia and penciclovir, the FCV metabolite, could be detected in the blood at assumed therapeutic levels. The early indicators for clinical disease were a marked absolute and relative drop in white blood cells, particularly monocytes prior to the detection of viraemia. The most prognostic haematological parameter at later stages of the disease was the platelet count showing a continuous sharp decline throughout, followed by a dramatic drop at the time of death. Conclusions: The EEHV-1A viraemic animals investigated here further highlight the ongoing threat posed by these viruses to juvenile Asian elephants. The findings call into question the efficacy of rectal FCV in clinical cases and direct towards the use of alternative anti-herpesvirus drugs and complementary treatments such as plasma infusions if no improvement in either viral load or the above-mentioned blood parameters are observed in the initial days of viraemia despite anti-herpesvirus therapy.
Targeting of specific receptors on antigen-presenting cells is an appealing prospect in the production of novel nanoparticulate vaccines. In particular, the targeting of vaccines to dendritic cell (DC) subsets has been shown in models to significantly improve the induction of immune responses. This paper describes the evaluation of natural ligands, mannan and chitosan, and monoclonal antibodies as targeting motifs to enhance uptake of PLGA nanoparticle carriers by bovine DCs. To assess enhancement of uptake after the addition of natural ligands a bovine monocyte derived DC (MoDC) model was used. For the assessment of monoclonal antibody targeting, the model was expanded to include afferent lymph DCs (ALDCs) in a competitive uptake assay. Mannan, proved unsuccessful at enhancing uptake or targeting by MoDCs. Chitosan coated particle uptake could be impeded by the addition of mannan suggesting uptake may be mediated through sugar receptors. Inclusion of monoclonal antibodies specific for the DEC-205 (CD205) receptor increased the number of receptor expressing DCs associated with particles as well as the number of particles taken up by individual cells. These results support the further evaluation of active targeting of nanovaccines to DCs to enhance their immunogenicity in cattle and other large mammalian species including humans.
Subunit viral vaccines are typically not as efficient as live attenuated or inactivated vaccines at inducing protective immune responses. This paper describes an alternative ‘biomimetic’ technology; whereby viral antigens were formulated around a polymeric shell in a rationally arranged fashion with a surface glycoprotein coated on to the surface and non-structural antigen and adjuvant encapsulated. We evaluated this model using BVDV E2 and NS3 proteins formulated in poly-(D, L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles adjuvanted with polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C) as an adjuvant (Vaccine-NP). This Vaccine-NP was compared to ovalbumin and poly(I:C) formulated in a similar manner (Control-NP) and a commercial adjuvanted inactivated BVDV vaccine (IAV), all inoculated subcutaneously and boosted prior to BVDV-1 challenge. Significant virus-neutralizing activity, and E2 and NS3 specific antibodies were observed in both Vaccine-NP and IAV groups following the booster immunisation. IFN-γ responses were observed in ex vivo PBMC stimulated with E2 and NS3 proteins in both vaccinated groups. We observed that the protection afforded by the particulate vaccine was comparable to the licenced IAV formulation. In conclusion, the biomimetic particulates showed a promising immunogenicity and efficacy profile that may be improved by virtue of being a customisable mode of delivery.
Outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) were first recorded in England in the 1970s and continued to be confirmed until 2002. Retrospective analysis of archived material from one of the last confirmed cases in England in the year 2000 demonstrates the previous existence of a very diverse PED virus strain. Following the outbreaks of PED in North America in 2013, there has been renewed interest in phylogenetic analysis of sequences from PEDV strains worldwide. There is a gap in the available sequence data between the mid 1980s and the mid 2000s. This work is an example of how this gap can be at least partially filled by the examination of archived material.
Background: Dendritic cells are professional antigen-presenting cells that play an essential role in the initiation and modulation of T cell responses. They have been studied widely for their potential clinical applications, but for clinical use to be successful, alternatives to xenogeneic substances like fetal bovine serum (FBS) in cell culture need to be found. Protocols for the generation of dendritic cells ex vivo from monocytes are well established for several species, including horses. Currently, the gold standard protocol for generating dendritic cells from monocytes across various species relies upon a combination of GM-CSF and IL-4 added to cell culture medium which is supplemented with FBS. The aim of this study was to substitute FBS with heterologous horse serum. For this purpose, equine monocyte-derived dendritic cells (eqMoDC) were generated in the presence of horse serum or FBS and analysed for the effect on morphology, phenotype and immunological properties. Changes in the expression of phenotypic markers (CD14, CD86, CD206) were assessed during dendritic cell maturation by flow cytometry. To obtain a more complete picture of the eqMoDC differentiation and assess possible differences between FBS- and horse serum-driven cultures, a transcriptomic microarray analysis was performed. Lastly, immature eqMoDC were primed with a primary antigen (ovalbumin) or a recall antigen (tetanus toxoid) and, after maturation, were cocultured with freshly isolated autologous CD5+ T lymphocytes to assess their T cell stimulatory capacity. Results: The microarray analysis demonstrated that eqMoDC generated with horse serum were indistinguishable from those generated with FBS. However, eqMoDC incubated with horse serum-supplemented medium exhibited a more characteristic dendritic cell morphology during differentiation from monocytes. A significant increase in cell viability was also observed in eqMoDC cultured with horse serum. Furthermore, eqMoDC generated in the presence of horse serum were found to be superior in their functional T lymphocyte priming capacity and to elicit significantly less non-specific proliferation. Conclusions: EqMoDC generated with horse serum-supplemented medium showed improved morphological characteristics, higher cell viability and exhibited a more robust performance in the functional T cell assays. Therefore, horse serum was found to be superior to FBS for generating equine monocyte-derived dendritic cells.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV)-like clinical cases of abortions in northern Jordan in early 2013, together with the emergence of SBV in Europe in 2011, its rapid spread within the following years and the detection of this virus in Turkey, raised questions about the distribution of SBV or related orthobunyaviruses. To evaluate the occurrence of SBV or related members of the Simbu serogroup of orthobunyaviruses in Jordan, bulk milk (cattle) and serum samples (cattle, sheep and goat) collected in northern Jordan in 2013 were first tested by commercially available SBV antibody ELISAs. Indeed, 3 of 47 bulk milk samples and 57 of 115 serum samples provided positive results, but SBV specificity of the ELISA results could not be confirmed by virus neutralization assays. Instead, subsequent cross-neutralization tests were able to further investigate the specificity of these antibodies. Here, a significant inhibition of Aino virus was observed. Thus, the causative agent was most likely a Simbu serogroup virus closely related to Aino virus. Consequently, these results confirm that members of this group of virus are not only present in Europe, Africa or Australia, but also in the Middle East.
Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses (EEHVs) are the cause of a highly fatal haemorrhagic disease in elephants primarily affecting young Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in both captivity and in the wild. The viruses have emerged as a significant threat to Asian elephant conservation, critically affecting overall sustainability of their population. So far insight into the pathogenesis of EEHV infections has been restricted to examination of EEHV-infected tissues. However, little is known about distribution and burden of the viruses within the organs of fatal cases, crucial elements in the understanding of the virus pathogenesis. This study was therefore undertaken to assess the extent of organ and cell involvement in fatal cases of EEHV-1A, 1B and 5 using a quantitative real-time PCR. EEHV-1 and 5 DNA were detectable in all the tissues examined, albeit with substantial differences in the viral DNA load. The highest EEHV-1A DNA load was observed in the liver, followed by the heart, thymus and tongue. EEHV-1B and 5 showed the highest DNA load in the heart, followed by tongue and liver. This study provides new insights into EEHV pathogenicity and has implications in choice of sample type for disease investigation and virus isolation.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is a vector-borne orthobunyavirus in the family Bunyaviridae, first identified in Germany before rapidly spreading throughout Europe. To investigate the events surrounding the incursion of this virus into Great Britain (GB) and its subsequent spread, archived sheep serum samples from an unrelated field survey in 2011 were analysed for the presence of SBV specific antibodies, to determine the earliest date of seroconversion. This serological study, along with analysis of the spatial spread of the sources of samples submitted for SBV analysis after January 2012, suggests that SBV entered GB on more than one occasion and in more than one location. Phylogenetic analysis of SBV sequences from 2012 ovine samples, from a variety of counties and dates, demonstrated a non-linear evolution of the virus, i.e. there was no distinct clustering between host species, geographical locations or during the outbreak. This also supports the notion of multiple viruses entering GB, rather than a single virus incursion. Premature termination signals were present in several non-structural putative protein sequences. One SBV sequence exhibited large deletions in the M segment of the genome. After the first outbreak in 2011–2012, interest in SBV in GB waned and continuous surveillance was not upheld. The re-emergence of SBV in 2016 has raised renewed concern and ended speculation that SBV might have been eradicated permanently from GB. When SBV sequences from 2012 were compared with those from the re-emergence in 2016–2017, a second distinct clade of SBV was identified that separates recent strains from those observed during the first outbreak.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viruses (PRRSV) present a wide phenotypic and genetic diversity. Experimental infections have demonstrated viral replication, including highly pathogenic strains (HP-PRRSV), in primary lymphoid organs such as the thymus. However, studies of the bone marrow are scarce but necessary to help elucidate the immunobiology of PRRSV strains of differing virulence. In this study, whereas viral RNA was detected within the bone marrow of animals experimentally infected with both low virulent Lelystad (LV) and 215-06 PRRSV-1 strains and with the highly virulent SU1-bel strain, PRRSV positive cells were only occasionally detected in one SU1-bel infected animal. PRRSV RNA levels were associated to circulating virus with the highest levels detected in LV-infected pigs. At 3 dpi, a decrease in the proportion of haematopoietic tissue and number of erythroid cells in all infected groups was associated with an increase in TUNEL or cleaved caspase 3 labelling and higher counts of myeloid cells compared to control. The expression of IL-1α and IL-6 was elevated at the beginning of the infection in all infected animals. The expression of TNF-α was increased at the end of the study in all infected groups with respect to control. Different PRRSV-1 strains induced, presummably by indirect mechanisms and independently of viral load and strain virulence, moderate and sustained hypoplasia of erythroid cells and myeloid cell hyperplasia at early stages of infection. These changes were paralleled by a peak in the local expression of IL-1α, IL-6 and TNF-α in all infected groups.
The objective of this study was to develop a bovine viral diarrhea virus type 2 (BVDV-2) challenge model suitable for evaluation of efficacy of BVDV vaccines; a model that mimics natural infection and induces clear leukopenia and viremia. Clinical, hematological and virological parameters were evaluated after infection of two age groups of calves (3 and 9 months) with two BVDV-2 strains (1362727 and 502643). Calves became pyrexic between 8 and 9 days post inoculation and exhibited symptoms, such as nasal discharge, mild depression, cough, and inappetence. Leukopenia with associated lymphopenia and neutropenia was evident in all groups with lowest leukocyte and lymphocyte counts reached 8 dpi and granulocyte counts between 11 and 16 dpi, dependent on the strain and age of the calves. A more severe thrombocytopenia was seen in those animals inoculated with strain 1362727. Leukocyte and nasal swab samples were positive by virus isolation, as early as 3 dpi and 2 dpi respectively, independent of the inocula used. All calves seroconverted with high levels of BVDV-2 neutralizing antibodies. BVDV RNA was evident as late as 90 dpi and provides the first evidence of the presence of replicating virus long after recovery from BVDV-2 experimental infection. In summary, moderate disease can be induced after experimental infection of calves with a low titer of virulent BVDV-2, with leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, viremia, and virus shedding. These strains represent an attractive model to assess the protective efficacy of existing and new vaccines against BVDV-2.
Monocytes are considered refractory to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus type 1 (PRRSV-1) infection. However, monocytes are only short-lived in blood, being able to differentiate into macrophages and dendritic cells (DC). It was therefore merited to revisit PRRSV-1 interaction with monocytes, particularly those treated with cytokines influencing monocyte biology. Thus, several factors were screened, particularly those modulating monocyte differentiation and expression of putative PRRSV-1 receptors (CD169 and CD163). M-CSF, known to stimulate macrophage differentiation, did not increase their susceptibility to PRRSV-1. Nor did GM-CSF or IL-4, known drivers for monocyte-derived DC (MoDC) differentiation. In contrast, monocyte treatment with IL-10 or the corticosteroid, dexamethasone, known to be potent suppressors of monocyte differentiation, was correlated with increased susceptibility to PRRSV-1 infection. While this effect was strongly correlated to CD163 and CD169 expression, our data suggest that receptor expression is not the only factor driving successful infection of PPRSV-1 in monocytes.
Porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus, strain CV777, was initially characterized in 1978 as the causative agent of a disease first identified in the UK in 1971. This coronavirus has been widely distributed among laboratories and has been passaged both within pigs and in cell culture. To determine the variability between different stocks of the PEDV strain CV777, sequencing of the full-length genome (ca. 28kb) has been performed in 6 different laboratories, using different protocols. Not surprisingly, each of the different full genome sequences were distinct from each other and from the reference sequence (Accession number AF353511) but they are >99% identical. Unique and shared differences between sequences were identified. The coding region for the surface-exposed spike protein showed the highest proportion of variability including both point mutations and small deletions. The predicted expression of the ORF3 gene product was more dramatically affected in three different variants of this virus through either loss of the initiation codon or gain of a premature termination codon. The genome of one isolate had a substantially rearranged 5´-terminal sequence. This rearrangement was validated through the analysis of sub-genomic mRNAs from infected cells. It is clearly important to know the features of the specific sample of CV777 being used for experimental studies.
Schmallenberg orthobunyavirus (SBV) was initially detected in 2011 in Germany from dairy cattle with fever and decreased milk yield. The virus infection is now established in many parts of the world with recurrent epidemics. SBV is transmitted through midges and transplacental. No direct virus transmission including via breeding has ever been demonstrated. In some bulls, however, the virus is detectable transiently, in low to minute quantities, in semen post-infection. While the infection is considered of low impact for the dairy industry, some SBV-free countries have adopted a zero-risk approach requiring bull semen batches to be tested for SBV RNA residues prior to import. This, in turn, obligates a protocol to enable sensitive detection of SBV RNA in semen samples for export purposes. Here, we describe how we established a now ISO/IEC 17025 accredited protocol that can effectively detect minute quantities of SBV RNA in semen and also its application to monitor bull semen during two outbreaks in the United Kingdom in 2012 and 2016. The data demonstrate that only a small number of bulls temporarily shed low amounts of SBV.
Although dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages share a bone marrow origin, these cells were long assumed to differentiate via discrete pathways. DCs have now been clearly shown to develop from myeloid lineage precursors, and recent evidence suggests that they may even differentiate from blood monocytes. Here, J. Hinrich Peters and colleagues assess current knowledge on the myelomonocytic origin and successive differentiation of human T-cell-directed DCs.
Borna disease virus (BDV) is a neurotropic, negative and single-stranded enveloped RNA virus that persistently infects various domestic animal species. Infection causes disturbances in behaviour and cognitive functions, but can also lead to a fatal neurologic disease. Human infections seemed likely, since serum antibodies were detected in neuropsychiatric patients. Further proof came from our discovery that peripheral blood monocytes carry viral antigens. Here, we present the first data on different viral genomic transcripts in such patients' cells as well as sequence data of transcripts. Both viral markers seem to coincide with acute episodes of mood disorders, thus pointing to a new human virus infection possibly threatening mental health.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells (APCs), and classical DCs, such as Langerhans cells (LCs) or interdigitating DCs (IDCs) are known to be the most potent stimulators of T lymphocytes. Earlier, several groups described the generation of DCs from monocytes, starting with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), adherent cells or magnetic bead-purified CD14 + cells. Although modifications of the original protocols have already been described, some questions relevant to clinical application and basic studies have not yet been addressed. Granulocyte-macrophage colonystimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin-4 (IL4) appear to be necessary, but are not sufficient for the differentiation of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDCs), as indicated by the failure to generate such cells under serum-free conditions. Using adherence purified monocytes, we first investigated the amount of GM-CSF and IL4 required for the differentiation of DCs. Consecutive kinetic studies during the differentiation period were designed to demonstrate how monocytes acquire the phenotype and function of DCs. The results showed that small amounts of GM-CSF and IL4 were required to generate MoDC which acquired their phenotype and function within 4 days. IL13 may substitute for IL4, whereas IL10, TNFα or IFNγ inhibited the generation of MoDCs.
A simple and rapid method for the phenotypic analysis of mononuclear phagocytes is described. Using flow cytometry, surface markers, as well as intracellular antigens and DNA content of peripheral blood monocytes, or differentiated monocytic cells could be analysed. Furthermore, the method has been of use in several species and is therefore not restricted to applications in humans. Different modes of data aquisition and analysis were compared and are discussed.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is the cause of severe fetal malformations when immunologically naïve pregnant ruminants are infected. In those malformed fetuses, a "hot-spot"-region of high genetic variability within the N-terminal region of the viral envelope protein Gc has been observed previously, and this region co-localizes with a known key immunogenic domain. We studied a series of M-segments of those SBV variants from malformed fetuses with point mutations, insertions or large in-frame deletions of up to 612 nucleotides. Furthermore, a unique cell-culture isolate from a malformed fetus with large in-frame deletions within the M-segment was analyzed. Each Gc-protein with amino acid deletions within the "hot spot" of mutations failed to react with any neutralizing anti-SBV monoclonal antibodies or a domain specific antiserum. In addition, in vitro virus replication of the natural deletion variant could not be markedly reduced by neutralizing monoclonal antibodies or antisera from the field. The large-deletion variant of SBV that could be isolated in cell culture was highly attenuated with an impaired in vivo replication following the inoculation of sheep. In conclusion, the observed amino acid sequence mutations within the N-terminal main immunogenic domain of glycoprotein Gc result in an efficient immune evasion from neutralizing antibodies in the special environment of a developing fetus. These SBV-variants were never detected as circulating viruses, and therefore should be considered to be dead-end virus variants, which are not able to spread further. The observations described here may be transferred to other orthobunyaviruses, particularly those of the Simbu serogroup that have been shown to infect fetuses. Importantly, such mutant strains should not be included in attempts to trace the spatial-temporal evolution of orthobunyaviruses in molecular-epidemiolocal approaches during outbreak investigations.
Equine viral arteritis is an infectious disease of equids caused by equine arteritis virus (EAV), an RNA virus of the family Arteriviridae. Dendritic cells (DC) are important modulators of the immune response with the ability to present antigen to naïve T cells and can be generated in vitro from monocytes (MoDC). DC are important targets for many viruses and this interaction is crucial for the establishment-or rather not-of an anti-viral immunity. Little is known of the effect EAV has on host immune cells, particularly DC. To study the interaction of eqDC with EAV in vitro, an optimized eqMoDC system was used, which was established in a previous study. MoDC were infected with strains of different genotypes and pathogenicity. Virus replication was determined through titration and qPCR. The effect of the virus on morphology, phenotype and function of cells was assessed using light microscopy, flow cytometry and in vitro assays. This study confirms that EAV replicates in monocytes and MoDC. The replication was most efficient in mature MoDC, but variable between strains. Only the virulent strain caused a significant down-regulation of certain proteins such as CD14 and CD163 on monocytes and of CD83 on mature MoDC. Functional studies conducted after infection showed that EAV inhibited the endocytic and phagocytic capacity of Mo and mature MoDC with minimal effect on immature MoDC. Infected MoDC showed a reduced ability to stimulate T cells. Ultimately, EAV replication resulted in an apoptosis-mediated cell death. Thus, EAV evades the host anti-viral immunity both by inhibition of antigen presentation early after infection and through killing infected DC during replication.
Infectious diseases of farmed and wild animals pose a recurrent threat to food security and human health. The macrophage, a key component of the innate immune system, is the first line of defence against many infectious agents and plays a major role in shaping the adaptive immune response. However, this phagocyte is a target and host for many pathogens. Understanding the molecular basis of interactions between macrophages and pathogens is therefore crucial for the development of effective strategies to combat important infectious diseases. We explored how porcine pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) can provide a limitless in vitro supply of genetically and experimentally tractable macrophages. Porcine PSC-derived macrophages (PSCdMs) exhibited molecular and functional characteristics of ex vivo primary macrophages and were productively infected by pig pathogens, including porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and African swine fever virus (ASFV), two of the most economically important and devastating viruses in pig farming. Moreover, porcine PSCdMs were readily amenable to genetic modification by CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing applied either in parental stem cells or directly in the macrophages by lentiviral vector transduction. We show that porcine PSCdMs exhibit key macrophage characteristics, including infection by a range of commercially relevant pig pathogens. In addition, genetic engineering of PSCs and PSCdMs affords new opportunities for functional analysis of macrophage biology in an important livestock species. PSCs and differentiated derivatives should therefore represent a useful and ethical experimental platform to investigate the genetic and molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions in pigs, and also have wider applications in livestock.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes a lethal, haemorrhagic disease in domestic swine that threatens pig production across the globe. Unlike domestic pigs, warthogs, which are wildlife hosts of the virus, do not succumb to the lethal effects of infection. There are three amino acid differences between the sequence of the warthog and domestic pig RELA protein; a subunit of the NF-κB transcription factor that plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infections. Domestic pigs with all 3 or 2 of the amino acids from the warthog RELA orthologue have been generated by gene editing. To assess if these variations confer resilience to ASF we established an intranasal challenge model with a moderately virulent ASFV. No difference in clinical, virological or pathological parameters were observed in domestic pigs with the 2 amino acid substitution. Domestic pigs with all 3 amino acids found in warthog RELA were not resilient to ASF but a delay in onset of clinical signs and less viral DNA in blood samples and nasal secretions was observed in some animals. Inclusion of these and additional warthog genetic traits into domestic pigs may be one way to assist in combating the devastating impact of ASFV.
Internalisation of CD4 is a well-known phenomenon. It occurs in the presence of phorbol myristate acetate (PMA), TPA or gangliosides and is usually completed within 30 min. Here, we describe an internalisation of CD4 molecules induced by low concentrations of high molecular weight dextran sulfate ( M r 500 kDa) which differs from the classical mode in several ways. Internalisation is demonstrated by flow cytometry after simultaneous and consecutive staining of extracellular and internalised CD4 molecules and by visualisation by electron micrographs. A simple blockage of antibody binding sites on the CD4 molecule (epitope masking) by DS500, as widely believed, is definitely not responsible for the observed effects. DS500-mediated internalisation is a slow and energy-dependent process, where CD4 but not CD 2, 3, 8, 16, 56 and HLA-DR molecules are involved. The reaction reveals a characteristic time and concentration dependency. It does not require activation of protein kinase C (PKC) and cannot be inhibited by cytochalasin D. These results provide some more insight in the behavior of CD4 on lymphoid cell surfaces in response to high molecular weight polyanions such as dextran sulfate.
Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) causes rhinopneumonitis, abortion and CNS disorders in horses. Using intranasal inoculation, the mouse model of this disease mimics the major pathogenic and clinical features of the equine disease. The aim of this study was to investigate whether murine dendritic cells (DC) can be infected with EHV-1 and whether they can be used as cellular vaccines for the induction of prophylactic anti-EHV-1 immunity. It was found that the DC lines FSDC, D2SC1, 18 (all H-2 super(d)) and 80/1 (H-2 super(k)), when incubated with the Ab4 strain of EHV-1, do not change their morphology and phenotype but sustain virus replication and induce proliferation of naive, syngeneic T cells. An even stronger proliferation of T cells was seen when DC were used that had been pre-exposed to heat-inactivated virus. DC lines were therefore pulsed with inactivated virus and were then administered intranasally to either BALB/c or C3H mice on days -25, -15 and -5. Control groups received either medium, unpulsed DC or inactivated virus only. Animals were challenged with EHV-1. Whereas mice of control panels showed clinical signs of EHV-1 disease and 27% died, animals immunized with the pulsed DC lines showed only subtle clinical symptoms, lost significantly less weight, exhibited a reduced virus load in their lungs and CNS and did not succumb to the disease during the observation period. These results show that murine DC can present EHV-1 and initiate a protective anti-viral immunity in vivo.
OBJECTIVE Cells of the myeloid lineage comprise a very heterogeneous population with many phenotypes and functional activities including macrophages and dendritic cells. To investigate the status, differentiative potential and lineage commitment of monocytic cells in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, this study isolated and cultured peripheral blood monocytes from patients and healthy donors. METHODS Monocytes were isolated by gradient centrifugation and adherence to plastic dishes. The cells were then cultured for three days, partially supplemented with GM-CSF and interleukin 4 (IL4) to obtain dendritic cells. The differentiation status was monitored by the expression of surface markers using flow cytometry and cytokine secretion. RESULTS Monocytes from SLE patients expressed significantly lower numbers of the monocytic marker CD14 and HLA-DR while secreting significantly more tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) than monocytes from healthy donors. The addition of GM-CSF and IL4 resulted in an inhibition of TNFα secretion, but was not sufficient to generate monocytederived dendritic cells. CONCLUSION Monocytes from SLE patients are severely altered in phenotype and function and have a limited differentiation flexibility towards the accessory type of monocytic cells.
Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious disease caused by the classical swine fever virus (CSFV). The live attenuated C-strain vaccine is highly efficacious, initiating protection within several days of delivery. The vaccine strain is detected in the tonsil early after inoculation, yet little is known of the role that tonsillar immune cells might play in initiating protection. Comparing the C-strain vaccine with the pathogenic CSFV Alfort-187 strain, changes in the myeloid cell compartment of the tonsil were observed. CSFV infection led to the emergence of an additional CD163(+)CD14(+) cell population, which showed the highest levels of Alfort-187 and C-strain infection. There was also an increase in both the frequency and activation status (as shown by increased MHC-II expression) of the tonsillar conventional dendritic cells 1 (cDC1) in pigs inoculated with the C-strain. Notably, the activation of cDC1 cells coincided in time with the induction of a local CSFV-specific IFN-gamma(+) CD8 T cell response in C-strain vaccinated pigs, but not in pigs that received Alfort-187. Moreover, the frequency of CSFV-specific IFN-gamma(+) CD8 T cells was inversely correlated to the viral load in the tonsils of individual animals. Accordingly, we hypothesise that the activation of cDC1 is key in initiating local CSFV-specific CD8 T cell responses which curtail early virus replication and dissemination.
Equine encephalosis virus (EEV) distribution was thought to be limited to southern Africa until 2008 when we reported EEV in Israel. It was then assumed that the clinical presentation resembled the initial incursion in Israel. To investigate further we conducted a retrospective analysis of equine sera, which had been collected for diagnosis of other suspected diseases, via serum neutralisation test. The data demonstrated that EEV was circulating as early as 2001 with incidence ranging from 20-100% for time period 2001-2008. As the symptoms of EEV can be similar to other equine notifiable diseases this is a significant finding which highlights the need for vigilance and education to accurately diagnose new and emerging diseases.
Dendritic cells (DC) have long been regarded as an independent cell lineage. Nonetheless increasing evidence over the last years lead to the understanding that DC are of myeloid origin. It has been demonstrated that peripheral blood monocytes can be differentiated into antigen presenting accessory cells1. CDla has been found on myeloid leukaemic cells2 and DC were demonstrated to derive from the same CD34+ cell as macrophages3 (MO). Furthermore, Histiocytosis-X cells, long known to be the semi-maligne cell variant of Langerhans cells (LC)4 are known to express myeloid markers such as CD145.
Using the commercially available PEPperCHIP ® microarray platform, a peptide microarray was developed to identify immunodominant epitopes for the detection of antibodies against Equine arteritis virus (EAV). For this purpose, the whole EAV Bucyrus sequence was used to design a total of 1250 peptides that were synthesized and spotted onto a microarray slide. A panel of 28 serum samples representing a selection of EAV strains was tested using the microarray. Of the 1250 peptides, 97 peptides (7.76%) showed reactivity with the EAV-positive samples. No single peptide was detected by all the positive serum samples. Seven peptides repeatedly showed reactivity above the cut-off and were considered to have diagnostic potential. Five of these peptides were within the immunodominant GP5 protein and two were within the replicase polyprotein regions NSP2 and NSP10, located in ORF1. The diagnostic sensitivity of the seven peptides selected was low, ranging from 5% to 55%; however, the combined diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the seven peptides was 90% and 100%, respectively. This data demonstrate that multiple peptide sequences would be required to design a comprehensive serological test to cover the diversity of the EAV strains and the individual immune responses of horses.
Bovine Pestiviruses A and B, formerly known as bovine viral diarrhoea viruses (BVDV)-1 and 2, respectively, are important pathogens of cattle worldwide, responsible for significant economic losses. Bovine viral diarrhoea control programmes are in effect in several high-income countries but less so in low- and middle-income countries where bovine pestiviruses are not considered in disease control programmes. However, bovine pestiviruses are genetically and antigenically diverse, which affects the efficiency of the control programmes. The emergence of atypical ruminant pestiviruses (Pestivirus H or BVDV-3) from various parts of the world and the detection of Pestivirus D (border disease virus) in cattle highlights the challenge that pestiviruses continue to pose to control measures including the development of vaccines with improved cross-protective potential and enhanced diagnostics. This review examines the effect of bovine pestivirus diversity and emergence of atypical pestiviruses in disease control by vaccination and diagnosis.
Epidermal Langerhans cells (ELC) are definitively primed to differentiate into dendritic cells (DC). It is unknown at what stage of monocyte development this priming occurs. In a culture system characterized by low paracrine stimulation, i.e. Iscove's modified Dulbecco medium (IMDM) with 2% FCS, we tested the ability of peripheral blood monocytes to turn to the route of the LC-DC lineage. In this system monocytes did not develop significant yeast cell phagocytosis, although mannose receptors were available. However, they became strong stimulators of mannan specific T cell proliferation. Phenotype development was analysed by flow cytometry using the monoclonal antibodies OKT6 (CD1a), IOT2 (HLA-DR), IOM2 (CD14) and the ligand Man-BSA-FITC. CD1a was the first marker which distinguished cultured monocytes from developing macrophages, obtained by addition of 8% human serum. Like cord blood Langerhans cells (CBLC) they internalized OKT6 in deep coated pits. They maintained a phenotype of monocyte derived Langerhans cells (MoLC) during eight days of in vitro culture, expressing CD1a, mannose receptors and HLA-DR and decreasing CD14, if left in their own conditioned medium. MoLC could be converted into macrophages by addition of human serum only within the first four days in vitro. Our data suggest that monocytes acquire an LC phenotype by autocrine stimulation.
The mouse model was used to study the pathogenesis of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) after primary and secondary intranasal infections. Within a few hours after infection, EHV-1 was found in nasal and olfactorial epithelium and sub-epithelial cells of the respiratory mucosa, but antigen-specific immune cells were never detected. Next to the lung, EHV-1 was transmitted early and directly to the brain, both via the olfactory route and the trigeminal nerve, but traces of degenerative or inflammatory processes were not detected there. In the lung, the immune cells residing or invading the parenchyma did not contain viral DNA or proteins. The primary immune response in the lungs was an alveolar and interstitial inflammation, dominated by the sequential appearance of neutrophils and macrophages, while the number of T and B lymphocytes remained unaltered. Within 24 hr after re-infection, lymphocytes accumulated around the blood vessels, outnumbering monocytes more than twofold, without neutrophils appearing. The lymphocytes comprised of little more B than T cells and the T cells were predominantly CD8+ cells. Those and B cells infiltrated the parenchyma. These results show the route of virus distribution and demonstrate the lack of antigen-specific immune cells in the lungs of mice after primary intranasal infection with EHV-1.
The 6th International Veterinary Immunology Symposium (6IVIS) was held in Uppsala, Sweden from 15-20 July 2001.
In this study the impact of a high contamination of the soil with the heavy metals cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) as well as with organochlorine compounds (PCB) on selected health status parameters in free-living roe deer was examined. In the second part the parasitic infestation and histopathological findings in the liver and kidney were investigated. As in the first part the results from roe deer from extremely highly polluted areas (regions of Bitterfeld [B] and Harz [H]) were compared with those of nearly nonpolluted areas (regions in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern [MVP] and Schleswig Holstein [SH]). In the unpolluted areas roe deer show significantly more abomasal helminths than in the polluted areas. Moreover, in the unpolluted areas a greater number of roe deer have a higher worm burden than in the polluted areas. A possible explanation for this correlation could be a higher moisture content in the soil of the SH and MVP regions, because an increased moisture content positively effects the development of external stages (e. g. eggs, larvae) of several species of abomasal helminths in roe deer (e. g. Ostertagia spp). The unpolluted areas (MVP, SH) have a proportion of 13.4% water space whereas in the polluted areas there is only 5.6%. However, within the group of one-year-old roe deer, individuals with a higher Cd contamination and a higher worm burden at the same time can be found more frequently. The incomplete immune competence in this age group could possibly explain why one-year-old roe deer react particularly sensitively. Concerning histopathological findings, lesions of the renal cortex such as tubulonephrosis, interstitial infiltration and glomerulopathy have been reported to be associated with toxic effects of cadmium. Roe deer of all three age groups showed several of these alterations, which, however, were not very pronounced. Even though, histopathological findings were observed in approximately half of the animals in each group. However, these findings were not statistically correlated to the measured cadmium levels. The two parameters gave no hint of a reduced health status of roe deer due to cadmium contamination. © 2001, Blackwell Wissenschafts-Verlag.
The objective of this study was to examine whether a high heavy metal contamination (Cd, Pb) as well as a high contamination with organochlorine compounds (PCB) in selected individuals induces changes in specified health status parameters (immune status, exposure to different viruses) in freeliving deer. Therefore, extremely polluted regions (Bitterfeld (B) and Harz (H) ) were compared with regions of very low pollution levels (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MVP) and Schleswig-Holstein (SH)). Free-living species with small home ranges such as roe deer are particularly suitable bio-indicators. Their residue concentration reflect the local contamination of their food and water supply, as well as the range of accumulation of persistent contaminants within the food chain. Overall a positive association between polluted regions and an above average cadmium level could be detected in all age groups. Regarding lead contamination significant differences were only found between roe deer in the Harz compared to roe deer in SH, MVP, and B. Only low concentrations of organochlorine compounds were detected. Regional differences were present regarding unspecific irnmunological parameters. Nevertheless, these differences were independent of Cd contamination. Furthermore, this study show that the specific immune response against different viral agents is probably not influenced by an increased contamination with Cd. This is consistent with previous studies describe in the literature. In conclusion, Cd contaminated roe deer have not been found to have a reduced health condition considering the afore mentioned parameters. A possible explanation could be that the life span of roe deer is usually too short for heavy metal contamination to induce a distinct chronic effect on these health status parameters. © 2001, Blackwell Wissenschafts-Verlag.