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Bolz M.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Bolz M.,University of Basel | Ruggli N.,Institute of Virology and Immunology IVI | Borel N.,University of Zurich | And 4 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2016

Background: Buruli ulcer is a neglected tropical disease of the skin that is caused by infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans. We recently established an experimental pig (Sus scrofa) infection model for Buruli ulcer to investigate host-pathogen interactions, the efficacy of candidate vaccines and of new treatment options. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we have used the model to study pathogenesis and early host-pathogen interactions in the affected porcine skin upon infection with mycolactone-producing and non-producing M. ulcerans strains. Histopathological analyses of nodular lesions in the porcine skin revealed that six weeks after infection with wild-type M. ulcerans bacteria extracellular acid fast bacilli were surrounded by distinct layers of neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes. Upon ulceration, the necrotic tissue containing the major bacterial burden was sloughing off, leading to the loss of most of the mycobacteria. Compared to wild-type M. ulcerans bacteria, toxin-deficient mutants caused an increased granulomatous cellular infiltration without massive tissue necrosis, and only smaller clusters of acid fast bacilli. Conclusions/Significance: In summary, the present study shows that the pathogenesis and early immune response to M. ulcerans infection in the pig is very well reflecting BU disease in humans, making the pig infection model an excellent tool for the profiling of new therapeutic and prophylactic interventions. © 2016 Bolz et al.

Bolz M.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Bolz M.,University of Basel | Kerber S.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Kerber S.,University of Basel | And 3 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2015

Buruli ulcer, caused by infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans, is a necrotizing disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, which is most prevalent in rural regions of West African countries. The majority of clinical presentations seen in patients are ulcers on limbs that can be treated by eight weeks of antibiotic therapy. Nevertheless, scarring and permanent disabilities occur frequently and Buruli ulcer still causes high morbidity. A vaccine against the disease is so far not available but would be of great benefit if used for prophylaxis as well as therapy. In the present study, vesicular stomatitis virus-based RNA replicon particles encoding the M. ulcerans proteins MUL2232 and MUL3720 were generated and the expression of the recombinant antigens characterized in vitro. Immunisation of mice with the recombinant replicon particles elicited antibodies that reacted with the endogenous antigens of M. ulcerans cells. A prime-boost immunization regimen with MUL2232-recombinant replicon particles and recombinant MUL2232 protein induced a strong immune response but only slightly reduced bacterial multiplication in a mouse model of M. ulcerans infection. We conclude that a monovalent vaccine based on the MUL2232 antigen will probably not sufficiently control M. ulcerans infection in humans. © 2015 Bolz et al.

Klausmann S.,University of Zurich | Sydler T.,University of Zurich | Summerfield A.,Institute of Virology and Immunology IVI | Lewis F.I.,University of Zurich | And 3 more authors.
Emerging Microbes and Infections | Year: 2015

Although porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2)-associated diseases have been evaluated for known immune evasion strategies, the pathogenicity of these viruses remained concealed for decades. Surprisingly, the same viruses that cause panzootics in livestock are widespread in young, unaffected animals. Recently, evidence has emerged that circovirus-like viruses are also linked to complex diseases in humans, including children. We detected PCV2 genome-carrying cells in fetal pig thymi. To elucidate virus pathogenicity, we developed a new pig infection model by in vivo transfection of recombinant PCV2 and the immunosuppressant cofactor cyclosporine A. Using flow cytometry, immunofluorescence and fluorescence in situ hybridization, we found evidence that PCV2 dictates positive and negative selection of maturing T cells in the thymus. We show for the first time that PCV2-infected cells reside at the corticomedullary junction of the thymus. In diseased animals, we found polyclonal deletion of single positive cells (SPs) that may result from a loss of major histocompatibility complex class-II expression at the corticomedullary junction. The percentage of PCV2 antigen-presenting cells correlated with the degree of viremia and, in turn, the severity of the defect in thymocyte maturation. Moreover, the reversed T-cell receptor/CD4-coreceptor expression dichotomy on thymocytes at the CD4 + CD8 interm and CD4SP cell stage is viremia-dependent, resulting in a specific hypo-responsiveness of T-helper cells. We compare our results with the only other better-studied member of Circoviridae, chicken anemia virus. Our data show that PCV2 infection leads to thymocyte selection dysregulation, adding a valuable dimension to our understanding of virus pathogenicity.

Munoz-Gonzalez S.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Ruggli N.,Institute of Virology and Immunology IVI | Rosell R.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Fraile L.,University of Lleida | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

It is well established that trans-placental transmission of classical swine fever virus (CSFV) during mid-gestation can lead to persistently infected offspring. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the ability of CSFV to induce viral persistence upon early postnatal infection. Two litters of 10 piglets each were infected intranasally on the day of birth with low and moderate virulence CSFV isolates, respectively. During six weeks after postnatal infection, most of the piglets remained clinically healthy, despite persistent high virus titres in the serum. Importantly, these animals were unable to mount any detectable humoral and cellular immune response. At necropsy, the most prominent gross pathological lesion was a severe thymus atrophy. Four weeks after infection, PBMCs from the persistently infected seronegative piglets were unresponsive to both, specific CSFV and non-specific PHA stimulation in terms of IFN-γ-producing cells. These results suggested the development of a state of immunosuppression in these postnatally persistently infected pigs. However, IL-10 was undetectable in the sera of the persistently infected animals. Interestingly, CSFV-stimulated PBMCs from the persistently infected piglets produced IL-10. Nevertheless, despite the addition of the anti-IL-10 antibody in the PBMC culture from persistently infected piglets, the response of the IFN-γ producing cells was not restored. Therefore, other factors than IL-10 may be involved in the general suppression of the T-cell responses upon CSFV and mitogen activation. Interestingly, bone marrow immature granulocytes were increased and targeted by the virus in persistently infected piglets. Taken together, we provided the first data demonstrating the feasibility of CSFV in generating a postnatal persistent disease, which has not been shown for other members of the Pestivirus genus yet. Since serological methods are routinely used in CSFV surveillance, persistently infected pigs might go unnoticed. In addition to the epidemiological and economic significance of persistent CSFV infection, this model could be useful for understanding the mechanisms of viral persistence. © 2015 Muñoz-González et al.

Mokhtar H.,Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency AHVLA | Mokhtar H.,University of Surrey | Eck M.,Institute of Virology and Immunology IVI | Eck M.,University of Bern | And 5 more authors.
Vaccine | Year: 2014

The porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is a rapidly evolving and diversifying pathogen necessitating the development of improved vaccines. Immunity to PRRSV is not well understood although there are data suggesting that virus-specific T cell IFN-γ responses play an important role. We therefore aimed to better characterise the T cell response to genotype 1 (European) PRRSV by utilising a synthetic peptide library spanning the entire proteome and a small cohort of pigs rendered immune to PRRSV-1 Olot/91 by repeated experimental infection. Using an IFN-γ ELISpot assay as a read-out, we were able to identify 9 antigenic regions on 5 of the viral proteins and determine the corresponding responder T cell phenotype. The diversity of the IFN-γ response to PRRSV proteins suggests that antigenic regions are scattered throughout the proteome and no one single antigen dominates the T cell response. To address the identification of well-conserved T cell antigens, we subsequently screened groups of pigs infected with a closely related avirulent PRRSV-1 strain (Lelystad) and a divergent virulent subtype 3 strain (SU1-Bel). Whilst T cell responses from both groups were observed against many of the antigens identified in the first study, animals infected with the SU1-Bel strain showed the greatest response against peptides representing the non-structural protein 5. The proteome-wide peptide library screening method used here, as well as the antigens identified, warrant further evaluation in the context of next generation vaccine development. © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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