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Experimental infection of rabbit with swine-derived hepatitis E virus genotype 4

Liu, Baoyuan, Chen, Yiyang, Sun, Yani, Nan, Yuchen, Li, Huixia, Du, Taofeng, Hiscox, Julian A., Zhao, Qin, Zhou, En-Min
Veterinary microbiology 2019 v.229 pp. 168-175
rabbits, Orthohepevirus A, Orthohepevirus B, liver, diarrhea, alanine transaminase, viremia, pathogenicity, spleen, animal models, genotype, seroconversion, viruses, RNA, virus replication, swine, China
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a zoonotic virus that is capable of causing cross-species infection. Rabbits can be experimentally infected with human- and swine-derived HEV-4 in the species Orthohepevirus A, and avian-derived HEV-3 in the species Orthohepevirus B suggesting rabbits can serve as an animal model for zoonotic HEV infection study. However, these studies show that the infectivity of swine HEV isolates in rabbits is not consistent. In this study, the animal study was conducted by the experimental infection of rabbit with a swine-derived HEV-4 isolated in China (designated CHN-SD-sHEV) for 28 weeks post-inoculation (wpi) in compassion to that infected with a rabbit-derived HEV-3 (designated HEV-SX-rHEV). Two rabbits were euthanized every 2 wpi for pathological examinations. The results showed that rabbits infected with CHN-SD-sHEV had the viremia and virus fecal shedding from 1 wpi to 22 wpi and seroconverted from 10 to 28 wpi. Meanwhile, elevated ALT levels were detected at 2 wpi. Moreover, virus replication was confirmed by the detection of both positive- and negative-strand HEV RNAs in the livers and spleens. Diarrhea and hepatocellular lesions were also observed in some animals. In contrast, rabbits experimentally infected with CHN-SX-rHEV exhibited earlier seroconversion, viremia and virus fecal shedding and hepatocellular lesions. Taken together, our data demonstrate that in comparison to the previously reported cases, the swine-derived HEV-4 isolated in China could cross-species infect rabbit accompanied with prolonged virus fecal shedding and liver lesions.