TRANSMISSION AND PATHOGENESIS OF HANTAVIRUS
Sammanfattning: Hantaviruses are the causative agents of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Eurasia, and of hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) in the Americas. Transmission to humans usually occurs by inhalation of aerosolized virus-contaminated rodent excreta. To date, human-to-human transmission has only been described for the Andes hantavirus. The mode of transmission of Andes hantavirus is not yet known, but transmission through saliva has been suggested. In Sweden, we have one hantavirus that is pathogenic to humans, Puumala virus (PUUV), which is endemic in Central and Northern Europe. It induces a relatively mild form of HFRS, also called nephropathia epidemica (NE). The rodent reservoir is the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). The mechanism behind the pathogenesis of hantavirus is complex and probably involves both virus-mediated and host-mediated mechanisms. The aim of this project was to investigate the transmission mechanisms and pathogenesis of hantavirus disease in humans.In our first study, we described the largest outbreak of PUUV so far in Sweden. We investigated factors that might be important for causing the outbreak, and suggested that a peak in the bank vole population together with concurrent extreme weather conditions most probably contributed to the outbreak.Our next studies concentrated on human-to-human transmission of hantaviruses. We found PUUV RNA in saliva from PUUV-infected patients, suggesting that there is PUUV in the saliva of infected humans, although no person-to person transmission appears to occur with PUUV. In the studies that followed, we showed that human saliva and human salivary components could inhibit hantavirus replication. We also found PUUV-specific IgA in the saliva of PUUV-infected patients, which might prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus. In the final study, we focused on the pathogenesis of NE. One hundred five patients were included in a prospective study. They were divided into a group with mild disease and a group with moderate or severe disease. We found that the immune response had a dual role in disease development. It was partly responsible for development of severe disease, with significantly higher amounts of neutrophils in severely ill patients, but it was also protective against severe disease, because patients with mild disease had higher levels of PUUV-specific IgG.In conclusion, a peak in the bank vole population in combination with extreme weather will increase the risk of human infection, PUUV RNA is present in saliva, PUUV-specific IgA and salivary components inhibit person-to-person transmission of PUUV, and the immune response is important for the pathogenesis of PUUV and the severity of the disease.
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