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1.
Front Immunol ; 12: 750229, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1506957

ABSTRACT

Improving COVID-19 intervention strategies partly relies on animal models to study SARS-CoV-2 disease and immunity. In our pursuit to establish a model for severe COVID-19, we inoculated young and adult male ferrets intranasally or intratracheally with SARS-CoV-2. Intranasal inoculation established an infection in all ferrets, with viral dissemination into the brain and gut. Upon intratracheal inoculation only adult ferrets became infected. However, neither inoculation route induced observable COVID-19 symptoms. Despite this, a persistent inflammation in the nasal turbinates was prominent in especially young ferrets and follicular hyperplasia in the bronchi developed 21 days post infection. These effects -if sustained- might resemble long-COVID. Respiratory and systemic cellular responses and antibody responses were induced only in animals with an established infection. We conclude that intranasally-infected ferrets resemble asymptomatic COVID-19 and possibly aspects of long-COVID. Combined with the increasing portfolio to measure adaptive immunity, ferrets are a relevant model for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine research.


Subject(s)
Bronchi/pathology , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/immunology , Ferrets/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Administration, Intranasal , Age Factors , Animals , Asymptomatic Diseases , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Hyperplasia , Immunity, Cellular , Immunity, Humoral , Injection, Intratympanic , Male , Virus Internalization
2.
Viruses ; 13(8)2021 08 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1367921

ABSTRACT

The recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in humans from a yet unidentified animal reservoir and the capacity of the virus to naturally infect pets, farmed animals and potentially wild animals has highlighted the need for serological surveillance tools. In this study, the luciferase immunoprecipitation systems (LIPS), employing the spike (S) and nucleocapsid proteins (N) of SARS-CoV-2, was used to examine the suitability of the assay for antibody detection in different animal species. Sera from SARS-CoV-2 naturally-infected mink (n = 77), SARS-CoV-2 experimentally-infected ferrets, fruit bats and hamsters and a rabbit vaccinated with a purified spike protein were examined for antibodies using the SARS-CoV-2 N and/or S proteins. From comparison with the known neutralization status of the serum samples, statistical analyses including calculation of the Spearman rank-order-correlation coefficient and Cohen's kappa agreement were used to interpret the antibody results and diagnostic performance. The LIPS immunoassay robustly detected the presence of viral antibodies in naturally infected SARS-CoV-2 mink, experimentally infected ferrets, fruit bats and hamsters as well as in an immunized rabbit. For the SARS-CoV-2-LIPS-S assay, there was a good level of discrimination between the positive and negative samples for each of the five species tested with 100% agreement with the virus neutralization results. In contrast, the SARS-CoV-2-LIPS-N assay did not consistently differentiate between SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative sera. This study demonstrates the suitability of the SARS-CoV-2-LIPS-S assay for the sero-surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a range of animal species.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/veterinary , Mink/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Chiroptera/immunology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Epidemiological Monitoring , Ferrets/immunology , Immunoprecipitation , Mesocricetus/immunology , Phosphoproteins/immunology , Rabbits/immunology , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
3.
J Virol ; 95(14): e0011121, 2021 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1358015

ABSTRACT

The current fears of a future influenza pandemic have resulted in an increased emphasis on the development and testing of novel therapeutic strategies against the virus. Fundamental to this is the ferret model of influenza infection, which is critical in examining pathogenesis and treatment. Nevertheless, a precise evaluation of the efficacy of any treatment strategy in ferrets is reliant on understanding the immune response in this model. Interferon-inducible transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) are interferon-stimulated proteins shown to be critically important in the host immune response against viral infections. These proteins confer intrinsic innate immunity to pH-dependent viruses such as influenza viruses and can inhibit cytosolic entry of such viruses to limit the severity of infection following interferon upregulation. Mutations in IFITM genes in humans have been identified as key risk factors for worsened disease progression, particularly in the case of avian influenza viruses such as H7N9. While the IFITM genes of humans and mice have been well characterized, no studies have been conducted to classify the IFITM locus and interferon-driven upregulation of IFITMs in ferrets. Here, we show the architecture of the ferret IFITM locus and its synteny to the IFITM locus of other mammalian and avian species. Furthermore, we show that ferret IFITM1, -2, and -3 are functionally responsive to both interferon-α (IFN-α) and influenza virus stimulation. Thus, we show that ferret IFITMs exhibit interferon-stimulated properties similar to those shown in other species, furthering our knowledge of the innate immune response in the ferret model of human influenza virus infections. IMPORTANCE IFITM proteins can prevent the entry of several pH-dependent viruses, including high-consequence viruses such as HIV, influenza viruses, and SARS-coronaviruses. Mutations in these genes have been associated with worsened disease outcomes with mutations in their IFITM genes, highlighting these genes as potential disease risk factors. Ferrets provide a valuable tool to model infectious diseases; however, there is a critical shortage of information regarding their interferon-stimulated genes. We identified the putative ferret IFITM genes and mapped their complete gene locus. Thus, our study fills a critical gap in knowledge and supports the further use of the ferret model to explore the importance of IFITMs in these important diseases.


Subject(s)
Ferrets , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype , Interferon-alpha/metabolism , Membrane Proteins/genetics , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/immunology , Animals , Cell Line , Conserved Sequence , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets/immunology , Ferrets/metabolism , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Models, Molecular , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/genetics , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/metabolism , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Up-Regulation
4.
J Virol ; 95(14): e0011121, 2021 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1287245

ABSTRACT

The current fears of a future influenza pandemic have resulted in an increased emphasis on the development and testing of novel therapeutic strategies against the virus. Fundamental to this is the ferret model of influenza infection, which is critical in examining pathogenesis and treatment. Nevertheless, a precise evaluation of the efficacy of any treatment strategy in ferrets is reliant on understanding the immune response in this model. Interferon-inducible transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) are interferon-stimulated proteins shown to be critically important in the host immune response against viral infections. These proteins confer intrinsic innate immunity to pH-dependent viruses such as influenza viruses and can inhibit cytosolic entry of such viruses to limit the severity of infection following interferon upregulation. Mutations in IFITM genes in humans have been identified as key risk factors for worsened disease progression, particularly in the case of avian influenza viruses such as H7N9. While the IFITM genes of humans and mice have been well characterized, no studies have been conducted to classify the IFITM locus and interferon-driven upregulation of IFITMs in ferrets. Here, we show the architecture of the ferret IFITM locus and its synteny to the IFITM locus of other mammalian and avian species. Furthermore, we show that ferret IFITM1, -2, and -3 are functionally responsive to both interferon-α (IFN-α) and influenza virus stimulation. Thus, we show that ferret IFITMs exhibit interferon-stimulated properties similar to those shown in other species, furthering our knowledge of the innate immune response in the ferret model of human influenza virus infections. IMPORTANCE IFITM proteins can prevent the entry of several pH-dependent viruses, including high-consequence viruses such as HIV, influenza viruses, and SARS-coronaviruses. Mutations in these genes have been associated with worsened disease outcomes with mutations in their IFITM genes, highlighting these genes as potential disease risk factors. Ferrets provide a valuable tool to model infectious diseases; however, there is a critical shortage of information regarding their interferon-stimulated genes. We identified the putative ferret IFITM genes and mapped their complete gene locus. Thus, our study fills a critical gap in knowledge and supports the further use of the ferret model to explore the importance of IFITMs in these important diseases.


Subject(s)
Ferrets , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype , Interferon-alpha/metabolism , Membrane Proteins/genetics , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/immunology , Animals , Cell Line , Conserved Sequence , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets/immunology , Ferrets/metabolism , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Models, Molecular , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/genetics , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/metabolism , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Up-Regulation
5.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 1864, 2021 01 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1042540

ABSTRACT

The ferret is a key animal model for investigating the pathogenicity and transmissibility of important human viruses, and for the pre-clinical assessment of vaccines. However, relatively little is known about the ferret immune system, due in part to a paucity of ferret-reactive reagents. In particular, T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are critical in the generation of effective humoral responses in humans, mice and other animal models but to date it has not been possible to identify Tfh in ferrets. Here, we describe the screening and development of ferret-reactive BCL6, CXCR5 and PD-1 monoclonal antibodies. We found two commercial anti-BCL6 antibodies (clone K112-91 and clone IG191E/A8) had cross-reactivity with lymph node cells from influenza-infected ferrets. We next developed two murine monoclonal antibodies against ferret CXCR5 (clone feX5-C05) and PD-1 (clone fePD-CL1) using a single B cell PCR-based method. We were able to clearly identify Tfh cells in lymph nodes from influenza infected ferrets using these antibodies. The development of ferret Tfh marker antibodies and the identification of ferret Tfh cells will assist the evaluation of vaccine-induced Tfh responses in the ferret model and the design of novel vaccines against the infection of influenza and other viruses, including SARS-CoV2.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Ferrets/immunology , High-Throughput Screening Assays/methods , T Follicular Helper Cells/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/isolation & purification , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Cross Reactions/immunology , Humans , Influenza Vaccines/immunology , Lymph Nodes/immunology , Mice , Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor/immunology , Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6/immunology , Receptors, CXCR5/immunology , Viral Vaccines/immunology
6.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 81, 2021 01 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1007628

ABSTRACT

There is a vital need for authentic COVID-19 animal models to enable the pre-clinical evaluation of candidate vaccines and therapeutics. Here we report a dose titration study of SARS-CoV-2 in the ferret model. After a high (5 × 106 pfu) and medium (5 × 104 pfu) dose of virus is delivered, intranasally, viral RNA shedding in the upper respiratory tract (URT) is observed in 6/6 animals, however, only 1/6 ferrets show similar signs after low dose (5 × 102 pfu) challenge. Following sequential culls pathological signs of mild multifocal bronchopneumonia in approximately 5-15% of the lung is seen on day 3, in high and medium dosed groups. Ferrets re-challenged, after virus shedding ceased, are fully protected from acute lung pathology. The endpoints of URT viral RNA replication & distinct lung pathology are observed most consistently in the high dose group. This ferret model of SARS-CoV-2 infection presents a mild clinical disease.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/pharmacology , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Female , Lung/immunology , Lung/pathology , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Replication/drug effects , Virus Replication/immunology , Virus Shedding/drug effects , Virus Shedding/immunology
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