• The brain-immune cells axis controls tissue specific immunopathology.

      Heyner, Maxi; Schreier, Sarah; Kröger, Andrea; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Dpringer-Nature, 2019-02-01)
      During viral infections, cell death can be induced as a direct result of cytopathic virus replication in various cell types and tissues or as an immune response of the host to the infectious agent. This leads to an infiltration of inflammatory cells, causing subsequent tissue damage. The balance between effective elimination of the pathogen and prevention of fatal tissue damage is decisive for life. The host has developed various mechanisms to inhibit excessive immune responses. Glucocorticoids (GCs) are well known to inhibit the immune response. GCs are synthesized after activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis by various viral infections and systemic inflammation. Neurons in the hypothalamus express the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH in turn induces a signaling cascade, which ends with an activation and release of GCs in the adrenal cortex.1 GCs can act as suppressors or inducers of the immune system by binding to the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) (Fig. 1). The HPA axis is activated in response to various viral infections or systemic inflammation, and is required to restore homeostasis by limiting inflammation and tissue damage. The underlying mechanisms remained unclear so far.
    • Contact-dependent transmission of Langat and tick-borne encephalitis virus in type I interferon receptor-1 deficient mice.

      Schreier, Sarah; Cebulski, Kristin; Kröger, Andrea; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society for Microbiology, 2021-01-27)
      Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is primarily transmitted to humans through tick bites or oral consumption of accordingly contaminated unpasteurized milk or milk products. The detection of TBEV RNA in various body fluids in immunosuppressed human patients is documented. However, the risk of direct contact exposure remains unclear. Interferon-alpha receptor-1 deficient (Ifnar1-/- ) mice, which are lacking the interferon-α/β responses, develop neurologic manifestations after infection with TBEV and Langat virus (LGTV). We showed that subcutaneous, intranasal, and peroral infection of LGTV lead to disease, whereas mice with intragastric application of LGTV showed no disease signs. With LGTV infected mice exhibit seroconversion and significant viral RNA levels was detected in saliva, eye smear, feces and urine. As a result, TBEV and LGTV are transmitted between mice from infected to naïve co-caged sentinel animals. Although intranasal inoculation of LGTV is entirely sufficient to establish the disease in mice, the virus is not transmitted by aerosols. These pooled results from animal models highlight the risks of exposure to TBEV contaminants and the possibility for close contact transmission of TBEV in interferon-alpha receptor-1 deficient laboratory mice.Importance Tick-borne encephalitis is a severe disease of the central nervous system caused by the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). Every year between 10,000-12,000 people become infected with this flavivirus. The TBEV is usually transmitted to humans via the bite of a tick, but infections due to consumption of infectious milk products are increasingly being reported. Since there is no therapy for an TBEV infection and mechanisms of virus persistence in reservoir animals are unclear, it is important to highlight the risk of exposure to TBEV contaminants and know possible routes of transmission of this virus. The significance of our research is in identifying other infection routes of TBEV and LGTV, and the possibility of close contact transmission.
    • Correlation of Severity of Human Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus Disease and Pathogenicity in Mice.

      Kurhade, Chaitanya; Schreier, Sarah; Lee, Yi-Ping; Zegenhagen, Loreen; Hjertqvist, Marika; Dobler, Gerhard; Kröger, Andrea; Överby, Anna K; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-09-01)
      We compared 2 tick-borne encephalitis virus strains isolated from 2 different foci that cause different symptoms in tick-borne encephalitis patients, from neurologic to mild gastrointestinal symptoms. We compared neuroinvasiveness, neurovirulence, and proinflammatory cytokine response in mice and found unique differences that contribute to our understanding of pathogenesis
    • The envelope protein of tick-borne encephalitis virus influences neuron entry, pathogenicity, and vaccine protection.

      Lindqvist, Richard; Rosendal, Ebba; Weber, Elvira; Asghar, Naveed; Schreier, Sarah; Lenman, Annasara; Johansson, Magnus; Dobler, Gerhard; Bestehorn, Malena; Kröger, Andrea; et al. (BMC, 2020-09-28)
      Background: Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is considered to be the medically most important arthropod-borne virus in Europe. The symptoms of an infection range from subclinical to mild flu-like disease to lethal encephalitis. The exact determinants of disease severity are not known; however, the virulence of the strain as well as the immune status of the host are thought to be important factors for the outcome of the infection. Here we investigated virulence determinants in TBEV infection. Method: Mice were infected with different TBEV strains, and high virulent and low virulent TBEV strains were chosen. Sequence alignment identified differences that were cloned to generate chimera virus. The infection rate of the parental and chimeric virus were evaluated in primary mouse neurons, astrocytes, mouse embryonic fibroblasts, and in vivo. Neutralizing capacity of serum from individuals vaccinated with the FSME-IMMUN® and Encepur® or combined were evaluated. Results: We identified a highly pathogenic and neurovirulent TBEV strain, 93/783. Using sequence analysis, we identified the envelope (E) protein of 93/783 as a potential virulence determinant and cloned it into the less pathogenic TBEV strain Torö. We found that the chimeric virus specifically infected primary neurons more efficiently compared to wild-type (WT) Torö and this correlated with enhanced pathogenicity and higher levels of viral RNA in vivo. The E protein is also the major target of neutralizing antibodies; thus, genetic variation in the E protein could influence the efficiency of the two available vaccines, FSME-IMMUN® and Encepur®. As TBEV vaccine breakthroughs have occurred in Europe, we chose to compare neutralizing capacity from individuals vaccinated with the two different vaccines or a combination of them. Our data suggest that the different vaccines do not perform equally well against the two Swedish strains. Conclusions: Our findings show that two amino acid substitutions of the E protein found in 93/783, A83T, and A463S enhanced Torö infection of neurons as well as pathogenesis and viral replication in vivo; furthermore, we found that genetic divergence from the vaccine strain resulted in lower neutralizing antibody titers in vaccinated individuals.
    • Langat virus infection affects hippocampal neuron morphology and function in mice without disease signs.

      Cornelius, Angela D A; Hosseini, Shirin; Schreier, Sarah; Fritzsch, David; Weichert, Loreen; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Fendt, Markus; Kröger, Andrea; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (BioMed Central, 2020-09-20)
      To compare the effect of low and high viral replication in the brain, wildtype and Irf-7-/- mice were infected with Langat virus (LGTV), which belongs to the TBEV-serogroup. The viral burden was analyzed in the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus. Open field, elevated plus maze, and Morris water maze experiments were performed to determine the impact on anxiety-like behavior, learning, and memory formation. Spine density of hippocampal neurons and activation of microglia and astrocytes were analyzed.