Ebola virus (EBOV) continues to pose a significant threat to human health, as evidenced by the 2013-2016 epidemic in West Africa and the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. EBOV causes hemorrhagic fever, organ damage, and shock culminating in death, with case fatality rates as high as 90%. This high lethality combined with the paucity of licensed medical countermeasures makes EBOV a critical human pathogen. Although EBOV infection results in significant damage to the liver and the adrenal glands, little is known about the molecular signatures of injury in these organs. Moreover, while changes in peripheral blood cells are becoming increasingly understood, the host responses within organs and lymphoid tissues remain poorly characterized. To address this knowledge gap, we tracked longitudinal transcriptional changes in tissues collected from EBOV-Makona-infected cynomolgus macaques. Following infection, both liver and adrenal glands exhibited significant and early downregulation of genes involved in metabolism, coagulation, hormone synthesis, and angiogenesis; upregulated genes were associated with inflammation. Analysis of lymphoid tissues showed early upregulation of genes that play a role in innate immunity and inflammation and downregulation of genes associated with cell cycle and adaptive immunity. Moreover, transient activation of innate immune responses and downregulation of humoral immune responses in lymphoid tissues were confirmed with flow cytometry. Together, these data suggest that the liver, adrenal gland, and lymphatic organs are important sites of EBOV infection and that dysregulating the function of these vital organs contributes to the development of Ebola virus disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science