Article Publish Status: FREE
Abstract Title:

Genetic and experimental evidence for cross-species infection by swine hepatitis E virus.

Abstract Source:

J Virol. 1998 Dec ;72(12):9714-21. PMID: 9811705

Abstract Author(s):

X J Meng, P G Halbur, M S Shapiro, S Govindarajan, J D Bruna, I K Mushahwar, R H Purcell, S U Emerson

Article Affiliation:

Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Prior to the recent discovery of the swine hepatitis E virus (swine HEV) in pigs from the midwestern United States, HEV was not considered endemic to this country. Since swine HEV is antigenically and genetically related to human strains of HEV, it was important to characterize this new virus further. The infectivity titer of a pool of swine HEV in pigs was determined in order to prepare a standardized reagent and to evaluate the dose response in pigs. Although the sequence of swine HEV varied extensively from those of most human strains of HEV, it was very closely related to the two strains of human HEV (US-1 and US-2) isolated in the United States. The U.S. strains which were recently recovered from two patients with clinical hepatitis E in the United States shared>/=97% amino acid identity with swine HEV in open reading frames 1 and 2. Phylogenetic analyses of different regions of the genome revealed that swine HEV and the U.S. strains grouped together and formed a distinct branch. These results suggested that swine HEV may infect humans. When we inoculated rhesus monkeys and a chimpanzee, experimental surrogates of humans, with swine HEV, the primates became infected. Furthermore, in a reciprocal experiment, specific-pathogen-free pigs were experimentally infected with the US-2 strain of human HEV that is genetically similar to swine HEV. These results provided experimental evidence for cross-species infection by the swine virus. Thus, humans appear to be at risk of infection with swine HEV or closely related viruses.

Study Type : Animal Study
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