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Mucosal Immune Response to Feline Enteric Coronavirus Infection

Mucosal Immune Response to Feline Enteric Coronavirus Infection

Viruses 11(10)

Feline infectious peritonitis is a devastating, fatal disease of domestic cats caused by a pathogenic mutant virus derived from the ubiquitous feline enteric coronavirus (FECV). Infection by FECV is generally subclinical, and little is known about the mucosal immune response that controls and eliminates the virus. We investigated the mucosal immune response against FECV in an endemically infected breeding colony over a seven-month period. Thirty-three cats were grouped according to FECV seropositivity and fecal virus shedding into naïve/immunologically quiescent, convalescent and actively infected groups. Blood, fecal samples and colon biopsies were collected to assess the mucosal and systemic immunologic and virologic profile. Results showed that cats with active FECV infections have strong systemic IgG and mucosal IgA responses that wane after virus clearance. Significant FECV-specific mucosal T cell IFNγ responses were not detected in any of the three groups. A shift toward an inflammatory state in the mucosa was suggested by increased IL17:FoxP3 expression. However, no histologic abnormalities were observed, and no shifts in lymphocyte subpopulation phenotype or proliferation were noted. Together, the results suggest that control of FECV is mediated by humoral mucosal and systemic responses and that perturbations in the primary reservoir organ (colon) are minimal.

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Accession: 069381486

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PMID: 31569783

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