Henipavirus infection causes severe respiratory and neurological disease in humans that can be fatal. To characterize the pathogenic mechanisms of henipavirus infection in vivo, we performed experimental infections in ferrets followed by genome-wide gene expression analysis of lung and brain tissues. The Hendra, Nipah-Bangladesh, and Nipah-Malaysia strains caused severe respiratory and neurological disease with animals succumbing around 7 days post infection. Despite the presence of abundant viral shedding, animal-to-animal transmission did not occur. The host gene expression profiles of the lung tissue showed early activation of interferon responses and subsequent expression of inflammation-related genes that coincided with the clinical deterioration. Additionally, the lung tissue showed unchanged levels of lymphocyte markers and progressive downregulation of cell cycle genes and extracellular matrix components. Infection in the brain resulted in a limited breadth of the host responses, which is in accordance with the immunoprivileged status of this organ. Finally, we propose a model of the pathogenic mechanisms of henipavirus infection that integrates multiple components of the host responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases