Host genetic diversity enables Ebola hemorrhagic fever pathogenesis and resistance

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Science  21 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6212, pp. 987-991
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259595

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Existing mouse models of lethal Ebola virus infection do not reproduce hallmark symptoms of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, neither delayed blood coagulation and disseminated intravascular coagulation nor death from shock, thus restricting pathogenesis studies to nonhuman primates. Here we show that mice from the Collaborative Cross panel of recombinant inbred mice exhibit distinct disease phenotypes after mouse-adapted Ebola virus infection. Phenotypes range from complete resistance to lethal disease to severe hemorrhagic fever characterized by prolonged coagulation times and 100% mortality. Inflammatory signaling was associated with vascular permeability and endothelial activation, and resistance to lethal infection arose by induction of lymphocyte differentiation and cellular adhesion, probably mediated by the susceptibility allele Tek. These data indicate that genetic background determines susceptibility to Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

Variety of Ebola symptoms in mice

Apart from monkeys, there are no animal models available that show the same symptoms of Ebola virus infection as those of humans. Rasmussen et al. tested the effects of Ebola virus in mice with defined genetic backgrounds in a series of pains-taking experiments performed under stringent biosafety conditions. Resistance and susceptibility to Ebola virus was associated with distinct genetic profiles in inflammation, blood coagulation, and vascular function. This panel of mice could prove valuable for preliminary screens of candidate therapeutics and vaccines.

Science, this issue p. 987

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