Publications by authors named "Mariano Carossino"

32 Publications

Parental bias in expression and interaction of genes in the equine placenta.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Apr;118(16)

Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40503;

Most autosomal genes in the placenta show a biallelic expression pattern. However, some genes exhibit allele-specific transcription depending on the parental origin of the chromosomes on which the copy of the gene resides. Parentally expressed genes are involved in the reciprocal interaction between maternal and paternal genes, coordinating the allocation of resources between fetus and mother. One of the main challenges of studying parental-specific allelic expression (allele-specific expression [ASE]) in the placenta is the maternal cellular remnant at the fetomaternal interface. Horses () have an epitheliochorial placenta in which both the endometrial epithelium and the epithelium of the chorionic villi are juxtaposed with minimal extension into the uterine mucosa, yet there is no information available on the allelic gene expression of equine chorioallantois (CA). In the current study, we present a dataset of 1,336 genes showing ASE in the equine CA (https://pouya-dini.github.io/equine-gene-db/) along with a workflow for analyzing ASE genes. We further identified 254 potentially imprinted genes among the parentally expressed genes in the equine CA and evaluated the expression pattern of these genes throughout gestation. Our gene ontology analysis implies that maternally expressed genes tend to decrease the length of gestation, while paternally expressed genes extend the length of gestation. This study provides fundamental information regarding parental gene expression during equine pregnancy, a species with a negligible amount of maternal cellular remnant in its placenta. This information will provide the basis for a better understanding of the role of parental gene expression in the placenta during gestation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2006474118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8072238PMC
April 2021

TOP1 inhibition therapy protects against SARS-CoV-2-induced lethal inflammation.

Cell 2021 May 30;184(10):2618-2632.e17. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Department of Genetics and Genomics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA; Icahn Institute of Genomics and Multiscale Biology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

The ongoing pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently affecting millions of lives worldwide. Large retrospective studies indicate that an elevated level of inflammatory cytokines and pro-inflammatory factors are associated with both increased disease severity and mortality. Here, using multidimensional epigenetic, transcriptional, in vitro, and in vivo analyses, we report that topoisomerase 1 (TOP1) inhibition suppresses lethal inflammation induced by SARS-CoV-2. Therapeutic treatment with two doses of topotecan (TPT), an FDA-approved TOP1 inhibitor, suppresses infection-induced inflammation in hamsters. TPT treatment as late as 4 days post-infection reduces morbidity and rescues mortality in a transgenic mouse model. These results support the potential of TOP1 inhibition as an effective host-directed therapy against severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. TPT and its derivatives are inexpensive clinical-grade inhibitors available in most countries. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy of repurposing TOP1 inhibitors for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8008343PMC
May 2021

Pathologic and immunohistochemical findings in an outbreak of systemic toxoplasmosis in a mob of red kangaroos.

J Vet Diagn Invest 2021 May 19;33(3):554-565. Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and Department of Pathobiological Sciences.

is a zoonotic protozoan pathogen that infects many endothermic vertebrates, including humans; the domestic cat and other felids serve as the definitive host. Macropodids are considered highly susceptible to toxoplasmosis. Here, we describe the clinical, pathologic, and immunohistochemical findings of an outbreak of systemic toxoplasmosis in a mob of 11 red kangaroos (), with high morbidity (73%) and mortality (100%) rates. Affected animals had either severe and rapidly deteriorating clinical conditions or sudden death, which was correlated with widespread necrotizing lesions in multiple organs and intralesional organisms identified via MIC3-specific immunohistochemistry and confirmed by REP529-specific rtPCR. Quantification of parasites demonstrated the highest parasite density in pulmonary parenchyma compared with other tissues. Our study highlights the continued importance of this severe condition in Australian marsupials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/10406387211001869DOI Listing
May 2021

Experimental re-infected cats do not transmit SARS-CoV-2.

Emerg Microbes Infect 2021 Dec;10(1):638-650

Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.

SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of COVID-19 and responsible for the current global pandemic. We and others have previously demonstrated that cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and can efficiently transmit the virus to naïve cats. Here, we address whether cats previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2 can be re-infected with SARS-CoV-2. In two independent studies, SARS-CoV-2-infected cats were re-challenged with SARS-CoV-2 at 21 days post primary challenge (DPC) and necropsies performed at 4, 7 and 14 days post-secondary challenge (DP2C). Sentinels were co-mingled with the re-challenged cats at 1 DP2C. Clinical signs were recorded, and nasal, oropharyngeal, and rectal swabs, blood, and serum were collected and tissues examined for histologic lesions. Viral RNA was transiently shed via the nasal, oropharyngeal and rectal cavities of the re-challenged cats. Viral RNA was detected in various tissues of re-challenged cats euthanized at 4 DP2C, mainly in the upper respiratory tract and lymphoid tissues, but less frequently and at lower levels in the lower respiratory tract when compared to primary SARS-CoV-2 challenged cats at 4 DPC. Viral RNA and antigen detected in the respiratory tract of the primary SARS-CoV-2 infected cats at early DPCs were absent in the re-challenged cats. Naïve sentinels co-housed with the re-challenged cats did not shed virus or seroconvert. Together, our results indicate that cats previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 can be experimentally re-infected with SARS-CoV-2; however, the levels of virus shed was insufficient for transmission to co-housed naïve sentinels. We conclude that SARS-CoV-2 infection in cats induces immune responses that provide partial, non-sterilizing immune protection against re-infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2021.1902753DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023599PMC
December 2021

Paternally expressed retrotransposon Gag like 1 gene, RTL1, is one of the crucial elements for placental angiogenesis in horses.

Biol Reprod 2021 Mar 8. Epub 2021 Mar 8.

Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA, 40503.

RTL1 (retrotransposon Gag like 1) is an essential gene in the development of the human and murine placenta. Several fetal and placental abnormalities such as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and hydrops conditions have been associated with altered expression of this gene. However, the function of RTL1 has not been identified. RTL1 is located on a highly conserved region in eutherian mammals. Therefore, the genetic and molecular analysis in horses could hold important implications for other species, including humans. Here we demonstrated that RTL1 is paternally expressed and is localized within the endothelial cells of the equine (Equus caballus) chorioallantois. We developed an equine placental microvasculature primary cell culture and demonstrated that RTL1 knock-down leads to loss of the sprouting ability of these endothelial cells. We further demonstrated an association between abnormal expression of RTL1 and development of hydrallantois. Our data suggest that RTL1 may be essential for placental angiogenesis, and its abnormal expression can lead to placental insufficiency. This placental insufficiency could be the reason for IUGR and hydrops conditions reported in other species, including humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biolre/ioab039DOI Listing
March 2021

Fatal neuroinvasion of SARS-CoV-2 in K18-hACE2 mice is partially dependent on hACE2 expression.

bioRxiv 2021 Jan 15. Epub 2021 Jan 15.

Animal models recapitulating the distinctive features of severe COVID-19 are critical to enhance our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis. Transgenic mice expressing human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) under the cytokeratin 18 promoter (K18-hACE2) represent a lethal model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, the cause(s) and mechanisms of lethality in this mouse model remain unclear. Here, we evaluated the spatiotemporal dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infection for up to 14 days post-infection. Despite infection and moderate inflammation in the lungs, lethality was invariably associated with viral neuroinvasion and neuronal damage (including spinal motor neurons). Neuroinvasion occurred following virus transport through the olfactory neuroepithelium in a manner that was only partially dependent on hACE2. Interestingly, SARS-CoV-2 tropism was overall neither widespread among nor restricted to only ACE2-expressing cells. Although our work incites caution in the utility of the K18-hACE2 model to study global aspects of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, it underscores this model as a unique platform for exploring the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 neuropathogenesis.

Summary: COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a betacoronavirus. Here, we show that in a widely used transgenic mouse model of COVID-19, lethality is invariably associated with viral neuroinvasion and the ensuing neuronal disease, while lung inflammation remains moderate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.13.425144DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7814818PMC
January 2021

Topoisomerase 1 inhibition therapy protects against SARS-CoV-2-induced inflammation and death in animal models.

bioRxiv 2020 Dec 1. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

The ongoing pandemic caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently affecting millions of lives worldwide. Large retrospective studies indicate that an elevated level of inflammatory cytokines and pro-inflammatory factors are associated with both increased disease severity and mortality. Here, using multidimensional epigenetic, transcriptional, and analyses, we report that Topoisomerase 1 (Top1) inhibition suppresses lethal inflammation induced by SARS-CoV-2. Therapeutic treatment with two doses of Topotecan (TPT), a FDA-approved Top1 inhibitor, suppresses infection-induced inflammation in hamsters. TPT treatment as late as four days post-infection reduces morbidity and rescues mortality in a transgenic mouse model. These results support the potential of Top1 inhibition as an effective host-directed therapy against severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. TPT and its derivatives are inexpensive clinical-grade inhibitors available in most countries. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy of repurposing Top1 inhibitors for COVID-19 in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.01.404483DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7724667PMC
December 2020

Experimental challenge of a North American bat species, big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), with SARS-CoV-2.

Transbound Emerg Dis 2020 Dec 9. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, WI, USA.

The recently emerged novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is phylogenetically related to bat coronaviruses (CoVs), specifically SARS-related CoVs from the Eurasian bat family Rhinolophidae. As this human pandemic virus has spread across the world, the potential impacts of SARS-CoV-2 on native North American bat populations are unknown, as is the ability of North American bats to serve as reservoirs or intermediate hosts able to transmit the virus to humans or to other animal species. To help determine the impacts of the pandemic virus on North American bat populations, we experimentally challenged big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) with SARS-CoV-2 under BSL-3 conditions. We inoculated the bats both oropharyngeally and nasally, and over the ensuing three weeks, we measured infectivity, pathology, virus concentrations in tissues, oral and rectal virus excretion, virus transmission, and clinical signs of disease. We found no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in any examined bat, including no viral excretion, no transmission, no detectable virus in tissues, and no signs of disease or pathology. Based on our findings, it appears that big brown bats are resistant to infection with the SARS-CoV-2. The potential susceptibility of other North American bat species to SARS-CoV-2 remains to be investigated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tbed.13949DOI Listing
December 2020

Novel Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus 1 VC2 Promotes Long-Lasting, Systemic Anti-melanoma Tumor Immune Responses and Increased Survival in an Immunocompetent B16F10-Derived Mouse Melanoma Model.

J Virol 2021 01 13;95(3). Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Division of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Oncolytic virotherapy (OVT) is now understood to be an immunotherapy that uses viral infection to liberate tumor antigens in an immunogenic context to promote the development of antitumor immune responses. The only currently FDA-approved oncolytic virotherapy, T-Vec, is a modified type 1 herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). While T-Vec is associated with limited response rates, its modest efficacy supports the continued development of novel OVT viruses. Herein, we test the efficacy of a recombinant HSV-1, VC2, as an OVT in a syngeneic B16F10-derived mouse model of melanoma. VC2 possesses mutations that block its ability to enter neurons via axonal termini. This greatly enhances its safety profile by precluding the ability of the virus to establish latent infection. VC2 has been shown to be a safe, effective vaccine against both HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection in mice, guinea pigs, and nonhuman primates. We found that VC2 slows tumor growth rates and that VC2 treatment significantly enhances survival of tumor-engrafted, VC2-treated mice over control treatments. VC2-treated mice that survived initial tumor engraftment were resistant to a second engraftment as well as colonization of lungs by intravenous introduction of tumor cells. We found that VC2 treatment induced substantial increases in intratumoral T cells and a decrease in immunosuppressive regulatory T cells. This immunity was critically dependent on CD8 T cells and less dependent on CD4 T cells. Our data provide significant support for the continued development of VC2 as an OVT for the treatment of human and animal cancers. Current oncolytic virotherapies possess limited response rates. However, when certain patient selection criteria are used, oncolytic virotherapy response rates have been shown to increase. This, in addition to the increased response rates of oncolytic virotherapy in combination with other immunotherapies, suggests that oncolytic viruses possess significant therapeutic potential for the treatment of cancer. As such, it is important to continue to develop novel oncolytic viruses as well as support basic research into their mechanisms of efficacy. Our data demonstrate significant clinical potential for VC2, a novel type 1 oncolytic herpes simplex virus. Additionally, due to the high rates of survival and the dependence on CD8 T cells for efficacy, our model will enable study of the immunological correlates of protection for VC2 oncolytic virotherapy and oncolytic virotherapy in general. Understanding the mechanisms of efficacious oncolytic virotherapy will inform the rational design of improved oncolytic virotherapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01359-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7925097PMC
January 2021

SARS-CoV-2 infection, disease and transmission in domestic cats.

Emerg Microbes Infect 2020 Dec;9(1):2322-2332

Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and responsible for the current pandemic. Recent SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility studies in cats show that the virus can replicate in these companion animals and transmit to other cats. Here, we present an in-depth study of SARS-CoV-2 infection, disease and transmission in domestic cats. Cats were challenged with SARS-CoV-2 via intranasal and oral routes. One day post challenge (DPC), two sentinel cats were introduced. Animals were monitored for clinical signs, clinicopathological abnormalities and viral shedding. examinations were performed at 4, 7 and 21 DPC. Viral RNA was not detected in blood but transiently in nasal, oropharyngeal and rectal swabs and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid as well as various tissues. Tracheobronchoadenitis of submucosal glands with the presence of viral RNA and antigen was observed in airways of the infected cats. Serology showed that both, principals and sentinels, developed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. All animals were clinically asymptomatic during the course of the study and capable of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to sentinels. The results of this study are critical for understanding the clinical course of SARS-CoV-2 in a naturally susceptible host species, and for risk assessment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2020.1833687DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7594869PMC
December 2020

Susceptibility of swine cells and domestic pigs to SARS-CoV-2.

Emerg Microbes Infect 2020 Dec;9(1):2278-2288

Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in an ongoing global pandemic with significant morbidity, mortality, and economic consequences. The susceptibility of different animal species to SARS-CoV-2 is of concern due to the potential for interspecies transmission, and the requirement for pre-clinical animal models to develop effective countermeasures. In the current study, we determined the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to (i) replicate in porcine cell lines, (ii) establish infection in domestic pigs via experimental oral/intranasal/intratracheal inoculation, and (iii) transmit to co-housed naïve sentinel pigs. SARS-CoV-2 was able to replicate in two different porcine cell lines with cytopathic effects. Interestingly, none of the SARS-CoV-2-inoculated pigs showed evidence of clinical signs, viral replication or SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody responses. Moreover, none of the sentinel pigs displayed markers of SARS-CoV-2 infection. These data indicate that although different porcine cell lines are permissive to SARS-CoV-2, five-week old pigs are not susceptible to infection via oral/intranasal/intratracheal challenge. Pigs are therefore unlikely to be significant carriers of SARS-CoV-2 and are not a suitable pre-clinical animal model to study SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis or efficacy of respective vaccines or therapeutics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2020.1831405DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7594707PMC
December 2020

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 by RNAscope in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry techniques.

Arch Virol 2020 Oct 5;165(10):2373-2377. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, River Rd, Room 1043, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, USA.

In situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) are essential tools to characterize SARS-CoV-2 infection and tropism in naturally and experimentally infected animals and also for diagnostic purposes. Here, we describe three RNAscope-based ISH assays targeting the ORF1ab, spike, and nucleocapsid genes and IHC assays targeting the spike and nucleocapsid proteins of SARS-CoV-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00705-020-04737-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7406679PMC
October 2020

Behavioral and Cardiopulmonary Effects of a Constant Rate Infusion of Remifentanil-Xylazine for Sedation in Horses.

J Equine Vet Sci 2020 08 8;91:103111. Epub 2020 May 8.

Servicio de anestesiología y cirugía, Centro de Rehabilitación y Hospital Equino Kawell, Solís, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Electronic address:

Xylazine and remifentanil in constant rate infusion (CRI) could be used for sedation in horses without adverse effects. The objective was to evaluate behavioral and cardiopulmonary effects of an intravenous (IV) infusion of xylazine and remifentanil for sedation in horses. Xylazine (0.8 mg/kg IV) followed after 3 minutes by a CRI of xylazine and remifentanil (0.65 mg/kg/h and 6 μg/kg/h, respectively) was administered in 10 healthy horses for 60 minutes. Sedation, ataxia, and cardiopulmonary, hematological, and blood gases variables were evaluated. Heart rate decreased significantly during the first 25 minutes after CRI of xylazine and remifentanil, whereas the respiratory rate showed a significant decrease at 20 minutes and remained significantly low until the endpoint. There were no statistically significant fluctuations in blood arterial pressure, blood pH, partial pressure of arterial carbon dioxide, lactate, creatinine, calcium, chlorine, and sodium, compared with baseline values. Blood partial pressure of arterial oxygen and bicarbonate values were significantly higher compared with baseline values, whereas potassium decreased. Sedation and ataxia developed immediately after the administration of xylazine in all horses. All horses recovered successfully within 10 minutes after interruption of the CRI of xylazine and remifentanil, with no ataxia. No adverse effects were observed. The use of a combination of xylazine and remifentanil as sedation protocol has no adverse effects at the described dosage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2020.103111DOI Listing
August 2020

Colorectal basidiobolomycosis in a dog.

J Vet Intern Med 2020 Sep 18;34(5):2091-2095. Epub 2020 Jul 18.

Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

A 7-year-old castrated male French Bulldog was examined for chronic large intestinal enteropathy. A colonic mass and thickened rectal mucosa were identified, and histopathologic examination of endoscopic biopsy specimens disclosed eosinophilic proctitis with large (5-20 μm), irregularly shaped, pauciseptate hyphae that were Gomori methenamine silver and periodic acid-Schiff positive. Amplification and sequencing of ribosomal DNA extracted from paraffin-embedded tissues yielded a sequence with 97% identity to GenBank sequences for Basidiobolus ranarum. After itraconazole, terbinafine, and prednisone administration, clinical signs resolved rapidly, and sonographic lesions were largely absent after 6 weeks. Treatment was discontinued by the owner 15 weeks after diagnosis. Three weeks later, the dog collapsed acutely and was euthanized. Necropsy identified metastatic islet cell carcinoma and grossly unremarkable colorectal tissues. However, histopathology of the rectum disclosed multifocal submucosal granulomas with intralesional hyphae morphologically similar to those previously observed. This report is the first to describe medical treatment of gastrointestinal basidiobolomycosis in a dog.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15859DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7517509PMC
September 2020

Equine hydrallantois is associated with impaired angiogenesis in the placenta.

Placenta 2020 04 5;93:101-112. Epub 2020 Mar 5.

Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA. Electronic address:

Introduction: Hydrallantois is the excessive accumulation of fluid in the allantoic cavities during the last trimester of pregnancy, leading to abdominal wall hernias, cardiovascular shock, abortion, and dystocia. It has been postulated that hydrallantois is associated with structural and/or functional changes in the chorioallantoic membrane. In the present study, we hypothesized that angiogenesis is impaired in the hydrallantoic placenta.

Method: Capillary density in the hydrallantoic placenta was evaluated in the chorioallantois via immunohistochemistry for Von Willebrand Factor. Moreover, the expression of angiogenic genes was compared between equine hydrallantois and age-matched, normal placentas.

Results: In the hydrallantoic samples, edema was the main pathological finding. The capillary density was significantly lower in the hydrallantoic samples than in normal placentas. The reduction in the number of vessels was associated with abnormal expression of a subset of angiogenic and hypoxia-associated genes including VEGF, VEGFR1, VEGFR2, ANGPT1, eNOS and HIF1A. We believe that the capillary density and the abnormal expression of angiogenic genes leads to tissue hypoxia (high expression of HIF1A) and edema. Finally, we identified a lower expression of genes associated with steroidogenic enzyme (CYP19A1) and estrogen receptor signaling (ESR2) in the hydrallantoic placenta.

Discussion: Based on the presented data, we believe that formation of edema is due to disrupted vascular development (low number of capillaries) and hypoxia in the hydrallantoic placenta. The edema leads to further hypoxia and consequently, causes an increase in vessel permeability which leads to a gradual increase in interstitial fluid accumulation, resulting in an insufficient transplacental exchange rate and accumulation of fluid in the allantoic cavity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2020.03.001DOI Listing
April 2020

Expression Profile of the Chromosome 14 MicroRNA Cluster (C14MC) Ortholog in Equine Maternal Circulation throughout Pregnancy and Its Potential Implications.

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Dec 13;20(24). Epub 2019 Dec 13.

Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40503, USA.

Equine chromosome 24 microRNA cluster (C24MC), the ortholog of human C14MC, is a pregnancy-related miRNA cluster. This cluster is believed to be implicated in embryonic, fetal, and placental development. The current study aimed to characterize the expression profile of this cluster in maternal circulation throughout equine gestation. The expression profile of miRNAs belonging to this cluster was analyzed in the serum of non-pregnant (diestrus), pregnant (25 d, 45 d, 4 mo, 6 mo, 10 mo), and postpartum mares. Among the miRNAs examined, 11 miRNAs were differentially expressed across the analyzed time-points. Four of these miRNAs (, , and ) were found to be enriched in the serum of pregnant mares at Day 25 relative to non-pregnant mares. To further assess the accuracy of these miRNAs in differentiating pregnant (25 d) from non-pregnant mares, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed for each of these miRNAs, revealing that and had the highest accuracy (AUC = 0.92 and 0.91, respectively; < 0.05). Moreover, , , and were enriched in the serum of Day 45 pregnant mares. Among those miRNAs, and retained the highest accuracy as shown by ROC analysis. GO analysis revealed that these miRNAs are mainly implicated in nervous system development as well as organ development. Using in situ hybridization, we localized in the developing embryo (25 d) and extra-embryonic membranes (25 and 45 d). In conclusion, the present study is the first to elucidate the circulating maternal profile of C24MC-associated miRNAs throughout pregnancy and to suggest that serum , , and could be used as pregnancy-specific markers during early gestation (25 and 45 d). Overall, the high abundance of these embryo-derived miRNAs in the maternal circulation suggests an embryo-maternal communication during the equine early pregnancy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms20246285DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6941126PMC
December 2019

Uterine responses and equine chorionic gonadotropin concentrations after two intrauterine infusions with kerosene post early fetal loss in mares.

Theriogenology 2020 Apr 19;147:202-210. Epub 2019 Nov 19.

BET Laboratory, Lexington, KY, USA.

Pregnancy loss during the normal lifespan of endometrial cups (∼37-120-150 days of gestation) may affect a mare's ability to conceive again in the same breeding season, as equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) secretion by retained endometrial cups can lead to abnormal ovulations and follicular growth. While intrauterine kerosene infusion has anecdotally been proposed as a treatment for endometrial cup retention, there are no controlled studies evaluating kerosene's ability to enhance endometrial cup regression following abortion. The objectives of this study were to assess uterine response, systemic side effects, and efficacy of intrauterine kerosene infusions after abortion. We hypothesized that kerosene infusions would hasten regression of endometrial cups without detrimental effects on the endometrium and the mare's general health. Twelve light-breed mares were enrolled in the study after an experimentally induced abortion with cloprostenol (n = 12) by 60 ± 2 days of gestation. Mares were randomly allocated to receive an intrauterine infusion with 500 mL of kerosene (n = 6) or 500 mL saline (n = 6) on days 21 and 35 after pregnancy termination. Uterine biopsies were collected at days 7, 21, 35, and 49 post-abortion to evaluate the degree of endometrial fibrosis with Picrosirius Red Stain and to be graded according to the Kenney & Doig 1986 classification. Furthermore, histomorphometry analysis of the endometrium lining, glandular epithelium and glandular density was performed. Endometrial lymphocyte B CD20, lymphocyte T CD3, and macrophage IBA-1 cell populations were characterized by immunohistochemistry. Physical examinations, blood cell counts, and serum biochemistry were performed before, and for 2 days after each uterine infusion. Serum samples were collected for assessment of eCG concentrations. Continuous data were analyzed with MIXED procedure with repeated measures in SAS, categorical data with LOGISTIC procedure of SAS. Significance was set at p < 0.05. Kerosene infusion did not affect complete blood cell counts, serum chemistry parameters, or physical examinations. Concentrations of eCG decreased over time (p < 0.001), but there were no differences between groups or time by group interactions (p = 0.72). Histological evaluation of the uterus showed no signs of increased fibrosis or degeneration in the treatment group. In conclusion, while kerosene infusions did not appear to have detrimental effects on mare health, our findings suggest that the use of kerosene in the uterus does not enhance the regression of endometrial cups by 49 days post-abortion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2019.11.014DOI Listing
April 2020

Equine arteritis virus long-term persistence is orchestrated by CD8+ T lymphocyte transcription factors, inhibitory receptors, and the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis.

PLoS Pathog 2019 07 29;15(7):e1007950. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, United States of America.

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) has the unique ability to establish long-term persistent infection in the reproductive tract of stallions and be sexually transmitted. Previous studies showed that long-term persistent infection is associated with a specific allele of the CXCL16 gene (CXCL16S) and that persistence is maintained despite the presence of local inflammatory and humoral and mucosal antibody responses. Here, we performed transcriptomic analysis of the ampullae, the primary site of EAV persistence in long-term EAV carrier stallions, to understand the molecular signatures of viral persistence. We demonstrated that the local CD8+ T lymphocyte response is predominantly orchestrated by the transcription factors eomesodermin (EOMES) and nuclear factor of activated T-cells cytoplasmic 2 (NFATC2), which is likely modulated by the upregulation of inhibitory receptors. Most importantly, EAV persistence is associated with an enhanced expression of CXCL16 and CXCR6 by infiltrating lymphocytes, providing evidence of the implication of this chemokine axis in the pathogenesis of persistent EAV infection in the stallion reproductive tract. Furthermore, we have established a link between the CXCL16 genotype and the gene expression profile in the ampullae of the stallion reproductive tract. Specifically, CXCL16 acts as a "hub" gene likely driving a specific transcriptional network. The findings herein are novel and strongly suggest that RNA viruses such as EAV could exploit the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis in order to modulate local inflammatory and immune responses in the male reproductive tract by inducing a dysfunctional CD8+ T lymphocyte response and unique lymphocyte homing in the reproductive tract.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1007950DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692045PMC
July 2019

Landscape of Overlapping Gene Expression in the Equine Placenta.

Genes (Basel) 2019 07 2;10(7). Epub 2019 Jul 2.

Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546, USA.

Increasing evidence suggests that overlapping genes are much more common in eukaryotic genomes than previously thought. These different-strand overlapping genes are potential sense-antisense (SAS) pairs, which might have regulatory effects on each other. In the present study, we identified the SAS loci in the equine genome using previously generated stranded, paired-end RNA sequencing data from the equine chorioallantois. We identified a total of 1261 overlapping loci. The ratio of the number of overlapping regions to chromosomal length was numerically higher on chromosome 11 followed by chromosomes 13 and 12. These results show that overlapping transcription is distributed throughout the equine genome, but that distributions differ for each chromosome. Next, we evaluated the expression patterns of SAS pairs during the course of gestation. The sense and antisense genes showed an overall positive correlation between the sense and antisense pairs. We further provide a list of SAS pairs with both positive and negative correlation in their expression patterns throughout gestation. This study characterizes the landscape of sense and antisense gene expression in the placenta for the first time and provides a resource that will enable researchers to elucidate the mechanisms of sense/antisense regulation during pregnancy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes10070503DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678446PMC
July 2019

Development and evaluation of a one-step multiplex real-time TaqMan RT-qPCR assay for the detection and genotyping of equine G3 and G14 rotaviruses in fecal samples.

Virol J 2019 04 25;16(1):49. Epub 2019 Apr 25.

Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

Background: Equine rotavirus A (ERVA) is the leading cause of diarrhea in neonatal foals and has a negative impact on equine breeding enterprises worldwide. Among ERVA strains infecting foals, the genotypes G3P[12] and G14P[12] are the most prevalent, while infections by strains with other genomic arrangements are infrequent. The identification of circulating strains of ERVA is critical for diagnostic and surveillance purposes, as well as to understand their molecular epidemiology. Current genotyping methods available for ERVA and rotaviruses affecting other animal species rely on Sanger sequencing and are significantly time-consuming, costly and labor intensive. Here, we developed the first one-step multiplex TaqMan real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay targeting the NSP3 and VP7 genes of ERVA G3 and G14 genotypes for the rapid detection and G-typing directly from fecal specimens.

Methods: A one-step multiplex TaqMan RT-qPCR assay targeting the NSP3 and VP7 genes of ERVA G3 and G14 genotypes was designed. The analytical sensitivity was assessed using serial dilutions of in vitro transcribed RNA containing the target sequences while the analytical specificity was determined using RNA and DNA derived from a panel of group A rotaviruses along with other equine viruses and bacteria. The clinical performance of this multiplex assay was evaluated using a panel of 177 fecal samples and compared to a VP7-specific standard RT-PCR assay and Sanger sequencing. Limits of detection (LOD), sensitivity, specificity, and agreement were determined.

Results: The multiplex G3 and G14 VP7 assays demonstrated high specificity and efficiency, with perfect linearity. A 100-fold difference in their analytical sensitivity was observed when compared to the singleplex assays; however, this difference did not have an impact on the clinical performance. Clinical performance of the multiplex RT-qPCR assay demonstrated that this assay had a high sensitivity/specificity for every target (100% for NSP3, > 90% for G3 VP7 and > 99% for G14 VP7, respectively) and high overall agreement (> 98%) compared to conventional RT-PCR and sequencing.

Conclusions: This new multiplex RT-qPCR assay constitutes a useful, very reliable tool that could significantly aid in the rapid detection and G-typing of ERVA strains circulating in the field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12985-019-1149-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482509PMC
April 2019

Intrahost Selection Pressure Drives Equine Arteritis Virus Evolution during Persistent Infection in the Stallion Reproductive Tract.

J Virol 2019 06 29;93(12). Epub 2019 May 29.

Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) is the causative agent of equine viral arteritis (EVA), a reproductive and respiratory disease of horses. Following natural infection, 10 to 70% of infected stallions can become carriers of EAV and continue to shed virus in the semen. In this study, sequential viruses isolated from nasal secretions, buffy coat cells, and semen of seven experimentally infected and two naturally infected EAV carrier stallions were deep sequenced to elucidate the intrahost microevolutionary process after a single transmission event. Analysis of variants from nasal secretions and buffy coat cells lacked extensive positive selection; however, characteristics of the mutant spectra were different in the two sample types. In contrast, the initial semen virus populations during acute infection have undergone a selective bottleneck, as reflected by the reduction in population size and diversifying selection at multiple sites in the viral genome. Furthermore, during persistent infection, extensive genome-wide purifying selection shaped variant diversity in the stallion reproductive tract. Overall, the nonstochastic nature of EAV evolution during persistent infection was driven by active intrahost selection pressure. Among the open reading frames within the viral genome, ORF3, ORF5, and the nsp2-coding region of ORF1a accumulated the majority of nucleotide substitutions during persistence, with ORF3 and ORF5 having the highest intrahost evolutionary rates. The findings presented here provide a novel insight into the evolutionary mechanisms of EAV and identified critical regions of the viral genome likely associated with the establishment and maintenance of persistent infection in the stallion reproductive tract. EAV can persist in the reproductive tract of infected stallions, and consequently, long-term carrier stallions constitute its sole natural reservoir. Previous studies demonstrated that the ampullae of the vas deferens are the primary site of viral persistence in the stallion reproductive tract and the persistence is associated with a significant inflammatory response that is unable to clear the infection. This is the first study that describes EAV full-length genomic evolution during acute and long-term persistent infection in the stallion reproductive tract using next-generation sequencing and contemporary sequence analysis techniques. The data provide novel insight into the intrahost evolution of EAV during acute and persistent infection and demonstrate that persistent infection is characterized by extensive genome-wide purifying selection and a nonstochastic evolutionary pattern mediated by intrahost selective pressure, with important nucleotide substitutions occurring in ORF1a (region encoding nsp2), ORF3, and ORF5.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00045-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6613756PMC
June 2019

Kinetics of the chromosome 14 microRNA cluster ortholog and its potential role during placental development in the pregnant mare.

BMC Genomics 2018 Dec 20;19(1):954. Epub 2018 Dec 20.

Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Background: The human chromosome 14 microRNA cluster (C14MC) is a conserved microRNA (miRNA) cluster across eutherian mammals, reported to play an important role in placental development. However, the expression kinetics and function of this cluster in the mammalian placenta are poorly understood. Here, we evaluated the expression kinetics of the equine C24MC, ortholog to the human C14MC, in the chorioallantoic membrane during the course of gestation.

Results: We demonstrated that C24MC-associated miRNAs presented a higher expression level during early stages of pregnancy, followed by a decline later in gestation. Evaluation of one member of C24MC (miR-409-3p) by in situ hybridization demonstrated that its cellular localization predominantly involved the chorion and allantoic epithelium and vascular endothelium. Additionally, expression of predicted target transcripts for C24MC-associated miRNAs was evaluated by RNA sequencing. Expression analysis of a subset of predicted mRNA targets showed a negative correlation with C24MC-associated miRNAs expression levels during gestation, suggesting the reciprocal control of these target transcripts by this miRNA cluster. Predicted functional analysis of these target mRNAs indicated enrichment of biological pathways related to embryonic development, endothelial cell migration and angiogenesis. Expression patterns of selected target mRNAs involved in angiogenesis were confirmed by RT-qPCR.

Conclusion: This is the first report evaluating C24MC kinetics during pregnancy. The findings presented herein suggest that the C24MC may modulate angiogenic transcriptional profiles during placental development in the horse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-5341-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6302407PMC
December 2018

Detection, molecular characterization and phylogenetic analysis of G3P[12] and G14P[12] equine rotavirus strains co-circulating in central Kentucky.

Virus Res 2018 08 1;255:39-54. Epub 2018 Jun 1.

Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA. Electronic address:

Equine rotavirus A (ERVA) is the leading cause of diarrhea in neonatal foals and a major health problem to the equine breeding industry worldwide. The G3P[12] and G14P[12] ERVA genotypes are the most prevalent in foals with diarrhea. Control and prevention strategies include vaccination of pregnant mares with an inactivated vaccine containing a prototype ERVA G3P[12] strain with limited and controversial field efficacy. Here, we performed the molecular characterization of ERVA strains circulating in central Kentucky using fecal samples collected during the 2017 foaling season. The data indicated for the first time that the G14P[12] genotype is predominant in this region in contrast to a previous serotyping study where only G3 genotype strains were reported. Overall, analysis of antigenic sites in the VP7 protein demonstrated the presence of several amino acid substitutions in the epitopes exposed on the surface including a non-conserved N-linked glycosylation site (D123N) in G14P[12] strains, while changes in antigenic sites of VP8* were minor. Also, we report the successful isolation of three ERVA G14P[12] strains which presented a high identity with other G14 strains from around the world. These may constitute ideal reference strains to comparatively study the molecular biology of G3 and G14 strains and perform vaccine efficacy studies following heterologous challenge in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2018.05.025DOI Listing
August 2018

Downregulation of MicroRNA eca-mir-128 in Seminal Exosomes and Enhanced Expression of CXCL16 in the Stallion Reproductive Tract Are Associated with Long-Term Persistence of Equine Arteritis Virus.

J Virol 2018 05 13;92(9). Epub 2018 Apr 13.

Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) can establish long-term persistent infection in the reproductive tract of stallions and is shed in the semen. Previous studies showed that long-term persistence is associated with a specific allele of the gene () and that persistent infection is maintained despite the presence of a local inflammatory and humoral and mucosal antibody responses. In this study, we demonstrated that equine seminal exosomes (SEs) are enriched in a small subset of microRNAs (miRNAs). Most importantly, we demonstrated that long-term EAV persistence is associated with the downregulation of an SE-associated miRNA (eca-mir-128) and with an enhanced expression of CXCL16 in the reproductive tract, a putative target of eca-mir-128. The findings presented here suggest that SE eca-mir-128 is implicated in the regulation of the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis in the reproductive tract of persistently infected stallions, a chemokine axis strongly implicated in EAV persistence. This is a novel finding and warrants further investigation to identify its specific mechanism in modulating the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis in the reproductive tract of the EAV long-term carrier stallion. Equine arteritis virus (EAV) has the ability to establish long-term persistent infection in the stallion reproductive tract and to be shed in semen, which jeopardizes its worldwide control. Currently, the molecular mechanisms of viral persistence are being unraveled, and these are essential for the development of effective therapeutics to eliminate persistent infection. Recently, it has been determined that long-term persistence is associated with a specific allele of the gene () and is maintained despite induction of local inflammatory, humoral, and mucosal antibody responses. This study demonstrated that long-term persistence is associated with the downregulation of seminal exosome miRNA eca-mir-128 and enhanced expression of its putative target, CXCL16, in the reproductive tract. For the first time, this study suggests complex interactions between eca-mir-128 and cellular elements at the site of EAV persistence and implicates this miRNA in the regulation of the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis in the reproductive tract during long-term persistence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00015-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5899189PMC
May 2018

Evaluation of a field-deployable reverse transcription-insulated isothermal PCR for rapid and sensitive on-site detection of Zika virus.

BMC Infect Dis 2017 12 19;17(1):778. Epub 2017 Dec 19.

Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Background: The recent emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) in Brazil and its precipitous expansion throughout the Americas has highlighted the urgent need for a rapid and reliable on-site diagnostic assay suitable for viral detection. Such point-of-need (PON), low-cost diagnostics are essential for ZIKV control in vulnerable areas with limited resources.

Methods: We developed and evaluated a ZIKV-specific field-deployable RT-iiPCR reagent set targeting the E gene for rapid detection of ZIKV in ZIKV-spiked human and mosquito specimens, and compared its performance to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) RT-qPCR assays targeting the E and NS2B genes, respectively.

Results: These assays demonstrated exclusive specificity for ZIKV (African and Asian lineages), had limits of detection ranging from 10 to 100 in vitro transcribed RNA copies/μl and detection endpoints at 10 plaque forming units/ml of infectious tissue culture fluid. Analysis of human whole blood, plasma, serum, semen, urine, and mosquito pool samples spiked with ZIKV showed an agreement of 90% (k = 0.80), 92% (k = 0.82), 95% (k = 0.86), 92% (k = 0.81), 90% (k = 0.79), and 100% (k = 1), respectively, between the RT-iiPCR assay and composite results from the reference RT-qPCR assays. Overall, the concurrence between the ZIKV RT-iiPCR and the reference RT-qPCR assays was 92% (k = 0.83).

Conclusions: The ZIKV RT-iiPCR has a performance comparable to the reference CDC and PAHO RT-qPCR assays but provides much faster results (~1.5 h) with a field-deployable system that can be utilized as a PON diagnostic with the potential to significantly improve the quality of the health care system in vulnerable areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12879-017-2852-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735522PMC
December 2017

Reproductive effects of arteriviruses: equine arteritis virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus infections.

Curr Opin Virol 2017 12 21;27:57-70. Epub 2017 Nov 21.

Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) are the most economically important members of the family Arteriviridae. EAV and PRRSV cause reproductive and respiratory disease in equids and swine, respectively and constitute a significant economic burden to equine and swine industries around the world. Furthermore, they both cause abortion in pregnant animals and establish persistent infection in their natural hosts, which fosters viral shedding in semen leading to sexual transmission. The primary focus of this article is to provide an update on the effects of these two viruses on the reproductive tract of their natural hosts and provide a comparative analysis of clinical signs, virus-host interactions, mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and viral persistence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.coviro.2017.11.005DOI Listing
December 2017

Equine Arteritis Virus Elicits a Mucosal Antibody Response in the Reproductive Tract of Persistently Infected Stallions.

Clin Vaccine Immunol 2017 Oct 5;24(10). Epub 2017 Oct 5.

Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) has the ability to establish persistent infection in the reproductive tract of the stallion (carrier) and is continuously shed in its semen. We have recently demonstrated that EAV persists within stromal cells and a subset of lymphocytes in the stallion accessory sex glands in the presence of a significant local inflammatory response. In the present study, we demonstrated that EAV elicits a mucosal antibody response in the reproductive tract during persistent infection with homing of plasma cells into accessory sex glands. The EAV-specific immunoglobulin isotypes in seminal plasma included IgA, IgG1, IgG3/5, and IgG4/7. Interestingly, seminal plasma IgG1 and IgG4/7 possessed virus-neutralizing activity, while seminal plasma IgA and IgG3/5 did not. However, virus-neutralizing IgG1 and IgG4/7 in seminal plasma were not effective in preventing viral infectivity. In addition, the serological response was primarily mediated by virus-specific IgM and IgG1, while virus-specific serum IgA, IgG3/5, IgG4/7, and IgG6 isotype responses were not detected. This is the first report characterizing the immunoglobulin isotypes in equine serum and seminal plasma in response to EAV infection. The findings presented herein suggest that while a broader immunoglobulin isotype diversity is elicited in seminal plasma, EAV has the ability to persist in the reproductive tract, in spite of local mucosal antibody and inflammatory responses. This study provides further evidence that EAV employs complex immune evasion mechanisms during persistence in the reproductive tract that warrant further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/CVI.00215-17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5629664PMC
October 2017

Equine Arteritis Virus Has Specific Tropism for Stromal Cells and CD8 T and CD21 B Lymphocytes but Not for Glandular Epithelium at the Primary Site of Persistent Infection in the Stallion Reproductive Tract.

J Virol 2017 07 9;91(13). Epub 2017 Jun 9.

Department of Veterinary Science, Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) has a global impact on the equine industry as the causative agent of equine viral arteritis (EVA), a respiratory, systemic, and reproductive disease of equids. A distinctive feature of EAV infection is that it establishes long-term persistent infection in 10 to 70% of infected stallions (carriers). In these stallions, EAV is detectable only in the reproductive tract, and viral persistence occurs despite the presence of high serum neutralizing antibody titers. Carrier stallions constitute the natural reservoir of the virus as they continuously shed EAV in their semen. Although the accessory sex glands have been implicated as the primary sites of EAV persistence, the viral host cell tropism and whether viral replication in carrier stallions occurs in the presence or absence of host inflammatory responses remain unknown. In this study, dual immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence techniques were employed to unequivocally demonstrate that the ampulla is the main EAV tissue reservoir rather than immunologically privileged tissues (i.e., testes). Furthermore, we demonstrate that EAV has specific tropism for stromal cells (fibrocytes and possibly tissue macrophages) and CD8 T and CD21 B lymphocytes but not glandular epithelium. Persistent EAV infection is associated with moderate, multifocal lymphoplasmacytic ampullitis comprising clusters of B (CD21) lymphocytes and significant infiltration of T (CD3, CD4, CD8, and CD25) lymphocytes, tissue macrophages, and dendritic cells (Iba-1 and CD83), with a small number of tissue macrophages expressing CD163 and CD204 scavenger receptors. This study suggests that EAV employs complex immune evasion mechanisms that warrant further investigation. The major challenge for the worldwide control of EAV is that this virus has the distinctive ability to establish persistent infection in the stallion's reproductive tract as a mechanism to ensure its maintenance in equid populations. Therefore, the precise identification of tissue and cellular tropism of EAV is critical for understanding the molecular basis of viral persistence and for development of improved prophylactic or treatment strategies. This study significantly enhances our understanding of the EAV carrier state in stallions by unequivocally identifying the ampullae as the primary sites of viral persistence, combined with the fact that persistence involves continuous viral replication in fibrocytes (possibly including tissue macrophages) and T and B lymphocytes in the presence of detectable inflammatory responses, suggesting the involvement of complex viral mechanisms of immune evasion. Therefore, EAV persistence provides a powerful new natural animal model to study RNA virus persistence in the male reproductive tract.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00418-17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469258PMC
July 2017

Detection of equine arteritis virus by two chromogenic RNA in situ hybridization assays (conventional and RNAscope(®)) and assessment of their performance in tissues from aborted equine fetuses.

Arch Virol 2016 Nov 19;161(11):3125-36. Epub 2016 Aug 19.

108 Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) is the causative agent of equine viral arteritis, a respiratory and reproductive disease of equids. EAV infection can induce abortion in pregnant mares, fulminant bronchointerstitial pneumonia in foals, and persistent infection in stallions. Here, we developed two RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) assays (conventional and RNAscope(®) ISH) for the detection of viral RNA in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues and evaluated and compared their performance with nucleocapsid-specific immunohistochemistry (IHC) and virus isolation (VI; gold standard) techniques. The distribution and cellular localization of EAV RNA and antigen were similar in tissues from aborted equine fetuses. Evaluation of 80 FFPE tissues collected from 16 aborted fetuses showed that the conventional RNA ISH assay had a significantly lower sensitivity than the RNAscope(®) and IHC assays, whereas there was no difference between the latter two assays. The use of oligonucleotide probes along with a signal amplification system (RNAscope(®)) can enhance detection of EAV RNA in FFPE tissues, with sensitivity comparable to that of IHC. Most importantly, these assays provide important tools with which to investigate the mechanisms of EAV pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00705-016-3014-5DOI Listing
November 2016

Development and evaluation of a reverse transcription-insulated isothermal polymerase chain reaction (RT-iiPCR) assay for detection of equine arteritis virus in equine semen and tissue samples using the POCKIT™ system.

J Virol Methods 2016 08 29;234:7-15. Epub 2016 Mar 29.

Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA. Electronic address:

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) is the causative agent of equine viral arteritis (EVA), a respiratory and reproductive disease of horses. Most importantly, EAV induces abortion in pregnant mares and can establish persistent infection in up to 10-70% of the infected stallions, which will continue to shed the virus in their semen. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a reverse transcription insulated isothermal polymerase chain reaction (RT-iiPCR) for the detection of EAV in semen and tissue samples. The newly developed assay had a limit of detection of 10 RNA copies and a 10-fold higher sensitivity than a previously described real-time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR). Evaluation of 125 semen samples revealed a sensitivity and specificity of 98.46% and 100.00%, respectively for the RT-qPCR assay, and 100.00% and 98.33%, respectively for the RT-iiPCR assay. Both assays had the same accuracy (99.2%, k=0.98) compared to virus isolation. Corresponding values derived from testing various tissue samples (n=122) collected from aborted fetuses, foals, and EAV carrier stallions are as follows: relative sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 88.14%, 96.83%, and 92.62% (k=0.85), respectively for the RT-qPCR assay, and 98.31%, 92.06%, and 95.08% (k=0.90), respectively for the RT-iiPCR assay. These results indicate that RT-iiPCR is a sensitive, specific, and a robust test enabling detection of EAV in semen and tissue samples with very considerable accuracy. Even though the RT-qPCR assay showed a sensitivity and specificity equal to virus isolation for semen samples, its diagnostic performance was somewhat limited for tissue samples. Thus, this new RT-iiPCR could be considered as an alternative tool in the implementation of EAV control and prevention strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jviromet.2016.02.015DOI Listing
August 2016