Innate immune responses of airway epithelial cells to infection with Equine herpesvirus-1

Gisela Soboll Hussey, Laura V. Ashton, Ayshea M. Quintana, David P. Lunn, Lutz S. Goehring, Kristina Annis, Gabriele Landolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) is the cause of respiratory disease, abortion and myelitis in horses worldwide. Protection following infection or vaccination is typically incomplete and this lack of protective immunity is thought to be due to the immunomodulatory properties of EHV-1. EHV-1 immune modulation is likely initiated early in the infection cycle at the respiratory epithelium, but to date, immunity to EHV-1 at the epithelial cell barrier remains poorly characterized. Thus, the purpose of this study was to use a recently established primary equine respiratory epithelial cell culture (EREC) system to characterize innate immunity to EHV-1.Differentiated ERECs were inoculated with a neuropathogenic strain of EHV-1 and cytokine responses were determined using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and ELISA. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-I and MHC-II as well as toll-like receptor (TLR)3 and TLR9 protein expression were examined using fluorescence activated cell-sorting analysis and chemotaxis of neutrophils and monocytes were evaluated using chemotaxis assays.Infection with EHV-1 resulted in increased expression of TLR3 and 9 as well as inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, TNF-alpha, IFN-alpha, and IL-6) and chemokines (IL-8, MCP-1). In contrast, EHV-1 infection caused marked decreases of MHC-I and MHC-II expression as well as a reduction in IFN-gamma production. In summary, these results provide an initial characterization of the early immune response to EHV-1 at the epithelial cell barrier and show that, while EHV-1 maintains induction of an inflammatory response, it causes an attenuation of IFN-gamma responses and down-modulates expression of MHC-I and MHC-II, which are important molecules for antigen presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-38
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants from the Morris Animal Foundation , the AFRI Animal Health competitive grant 2012-67015-20498 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture , and the College Research Council Foundation at CSU.


  • EHV-1
  • Epithelium
  • Equine
  • Innate immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Veterinary (all)


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