Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), also referred to as hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS), is a rare but frequently fatal disease caused by New World hantaviruses. In humans HPS is associated with severe pulmonary edema and cardiogenic shock; however, the pathogenesis of this disease remains unclear largely due to a lack of suitable animal models for the study of disease progression. In this study we monitored clinical, virological, pathophysiological parameters and host immunological responses to decipher pathological factors and events in the lethal Syrian hamster model of HPS following intranasal inoculation of Andes virus. Transcriptional profiling of the host gene responses demonstrated a suppression of innate immune responses in most organs analyzed during the early stage of infection, except for in the lung which had low level activation of several pro-inflammatory genes. During this phase Andes virus established a systemic infection in hamsters, with viral antigen readily detectable in the endothelium of the majority of tissues analyzed by 7-8 days post-inoculation. Despite wide-spread infection, histological analysis confirmed pathological abnormalities were almost exclusively found in the lungs. Immediately preceding clinical signs of disease, intense activation of pro-inflammatory and Th1/Th2 responses were observed in the lungs as well as the heart, but not in peripheral organs, suggesting that localized immune-modulations by infection is paramount to pathogenesis. Throughout the course of infection a strong suppression of regulatory T-cell responses was noted and is hypothesized to be the basis of the aberrant immune activations. The unique and comprehensive monitoring of host immune responses to hantavirus infection increases our understanding of the immuno-pathogenesis of HPS and will facilitate the development of treatment strategies targeting deleterious host immunological responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology