Comparison of attenuated and virulent West Nile virus strains in human monocyte-derived dendritic cells as a model of initial human infection

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Abstract

Background: The human-pathogenic North American West Nile virus strain (WNVNY99), responsible for the outbreak in New York city in 1999, has caused 41000 infections and 1739 human deaths to date. A new strain of West Nile virus emerged in New South Wales, Australia in 2011 (WNVNSW2011), causing a major encephalitic outbreak in horses with close to 1000 cases and 10-15% mortality. Unexpectedly, no human cases have so far been documented. Findings: We report here, using human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDCs) as a model of initial WNV infection, that the pathogenic New York 99 WNV strain (WNVNY99) replicated better than WNVNSW2011, indicative of increased viral dissemination and pathogenesis in a natural infection. This was attributed to suppressed viral replication and type I interferon (IFN) response in the early phase of WNVNY99 infection, leading to enhanced viral replication at the later phase of infection. In addition, WNVNY99 induced significantly more pro-inflammatory cytokines in MoDCs compared to WNVNSW2011. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the observed differences in replication and induction of IFN response between WNVNY99 and WNVNSW2011 in MoDCs may be indicative of their difference in virulence for humans.

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Rawle, D. J., Setoh, Y. X., Edmonds, J. H., & Khromykh, A. A. (2015). Comparison of attenuated and virulent West Nile virus strains in human monocyte-derived dendritic cells as a model of initial human infection. Virology Journal, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12985-015-0279-3

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