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Paper Provides New Insights into the Immunological Resistance of MARV Virus in Bats

While the Marburg virus disease (MVD) is deadly to humans, the filovirus responsible for it—i.e., the Marburg virus (MARV)—is carried asymptotically in Egyptian rousette bats (ERBs). Previous studies have demonstrated that these bats rely on a disease-tolerant strategy that minimizes pro-inflammatory gene upregulations to insignificant levels and thereby avoids MVD-linked immunopathology. This immune response is in contrast with the runaway pro-inflammatory cytokine responses in humans.

StageBio pathologist Shannon Kirejczyk, DVM, MPH, PhD, DACVP, collaborated with colleagues at the CDC on a study to better understand how ERBs coevolve with the MARV virus, which proves deadly to humans. Her and her team’s findings were recently published in a 2024 edition of Nature Communications.

A redefined understanding of MARV immunity in ERBs

In the paper, Kirejczyk and her co-authors provide in vivo evidence that the immunological resistance to the MARV virus demonstrated by ERBs requires a delicate balance of biological responses. The paper also details the processes and causes behind the amazing level of control ERBs exhibit in prohibiting MARV from resulting in inflammatory disease. Namely, ERBs naturally mount a pro-inflammatory response against the MARV virus at liver foci of infection. However, ecological stressors such as food scarcity and habitat disruption may undermine this delicate immune response.

The paper’s observations were made by using the glucocorticoid drug dexamethasone to diminish the ERB’s pro-inflammatory response, along with cutting-edge molecular pathology tools to target relevant immune markers. Among the paper’s key takeaways, Kirejczyk and her co-authors demonstrated that induction of a localized, pro-inflammatory response plays a critical role in limiting MARV replication.

Access the paper from Nature Communications to learn more

Review and download the article here to gain new insights into the correlation between pro-inflammatory responses and protection against MARV virus in ERBs.


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