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Experimental feline enteric coronavirus infection reveals an aberrant infection pattern and shedding of mutants with impaired infectivity in enterocyte cultures
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) results from mutations in the viral genome during a common feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) infection. Since many virological and immunological data on FECV infections are lacking, the present study investigated these missing links during experimental infection of three SPF cats with FECV strain UCD. Two cats showed mild clinical signs, faecal shedding of infectious virus from 4 dpi, a cell-associated viraemia at inconsistent time points from 5 dpi, a highly neutralising antibody response from 9 dpi, and no major abnormalities in leukocyte numbers. Faecal shedding lasted for 28-56 days, but virus shed during this stage was less infectious in enterocyte cultures and affected by mutations. Remarkably, in the other cat neither clinical signs nor acute shedding were seen, but virus was detected in blood cells from 3 dpi, and shedding of non-enterotropic, mutated viruses suddenly occurred from 14 dpi onwards. Neutralising antibodies arose from 21 dpi. Leukocyte numbers were not different compared to the other cats, except for the CD8(+) regulatory T cells. These data indicate that FECV can infect immune cells even in the absence of intestinal replication and raise the hypothesis that the gradual adaptation to these cells can allow non-enterotropic mutants to arise.
Authors from:Higher Education