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Background: Bovine besnoitiosis, caused by the cyst-forming apicomplexan parasite Besnoitia besnoiti, is a chronic and debilitating cattle disease that continues to spread in Europe in the absence of control tools. In this scenario, in vitro culture systems are valuable tools to carry out drug screenings and to unravel host-parasite interactions. However, studies performed in bovine target cells are scarce. Methods: The objective of the present study was to obtain primary bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) and fibroblast cell cultures, target cells during the acute and the chronic stage of the disease, respectively, from healthy bovine donors. Afterwards, expression of surface (CD31, CD34 and CD44) and intracellular markers (vimentin and cytokeratin) was studied to characterize cell populations by flow cytometry. Next, the lytic cycle of B. besnoiti tachyzoites was studied in both target cells. Invasion rates (IRs) were determined by immunofluorescence at several time points post-infection, and proliferation kinetics were studied by quantitative PCR (qPCR). Finally, the influence of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) co-infection on the host cell machinery, and consequently on B. besnoiti invasion and proliferation, was investigated in BAECs. Results: Morphology and cytometry results confirmed the endothelial and fibroblast origins. CD31 was the surface marker that best discriminated between BAECs and fibroblasts, since fibroblasts lacked CD31 labelling. Expression of CD34 was weak in low-passage BAECs and absent in high-passage BAECs and fibroblasts. Positive labelling for CD44, vimentin and cytokeratin was observed in both BAECs and fibroblasts. Regarding the lytic cycle of the parasite, although low invasion rates (approximately 3-4%) were found in both cell culture systems, more invasion was observed in BAECs at 24 and 72 hpi. The proliferation kinetics did not differ between BAECs and fibroblasts. BVDV infection favoured early Besnoitia invasion but there was no difference in tachyzoite yields observed in BVDV-BAECs compared to BAECs. Conclusions: We have generated and characterized two novel standardized in vitro models for Besnoitia besnoiti infection based on bovine primary target BAECs and fibroblasts, and have shown the relevance of BVDV coinfections, which should be considered in further studies with other cattle pathogens.
Jiménez-Meléndez, A., Fernández-Álvarez, M., Calle, A., Ramírez, M. Á., Diezma-Díaz, C., Vázquez-Arbaizar, P., … Álvarez-García, G. (2019). Lytic cycle of Besnoitia besnoiti tachyzoites displays similar features in primary bovine endothelial cells and fibroblasts. Parasites and Vectors, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-019-3777-0