Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) causes human encephalitis in North America (NA), but in South America (SA) it has rarely been associated with human disease, suggesting that SA strains are less virulent. To evaluate the hypothesis that this virulence difference is due to a greater ability of NA strains to evade innate immunity, we compared replication of NA and SA strains in Vero cells pretreated with interferon (IFN). Human IFN-α, -β, and -γ generally exhibited less effect on replication of NA than SA strains, supporting this hypothesis. In the murine model, no consistent difference in IFN induction was observed between NA and SA strains. After infection with most EEEV strains, higher viremia levels and shorter survival times were observed in mice deficient in IFN-α/β receptors than in wild-type mice, suggesting that IFN-α/β is important in controlling replication. In contrast, IFN-γ receptor-deficient mice infected with NA and SA strains had similar viremia levels and mortality rates to those of wild-type mice, suggesting that IFN-γ does not play a major role in murine protection. Mice pretreated with poly(I-C), a nonspecific IFN inducer, exhibited dose-dependent protection against fatal eastern equine encephalitis, further evidence that IFN is important in controlling disease. Overall, our in vivo results did not support the hypothesis that NA strains are more virulent in humans due to their greater ability to counteract the IFN response. However, further studies using a better model of human disease are needed to confirm the results of differential human IFN sensitivity obtained in our in vitro experiments.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of virology|
|State||Published - Sep 1 2005|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science