A549 and PLC/PRF/5 cells can support the efficient propagation of swine and wild boar hepatitis E virus (HEV) strains: demonstration of HEV infectivity of porcine liver sold as food
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- Takahashi, H., Tanaka, T., Jirintai, S. et al. Arch Virol (2012) 157: 235. doi:10.1007/s00705-011-1153-2
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Recent evidence has indicated the cross-species transmission of hepatitis E virus (HEV) from pigs and wild boars to humans, causing zoonosis, mostly via consumption of uncooked or undercooked animal meat/viscera. However, no efficient cell culture system for swine and boar HEV strains has been established. We inoculated A549 cells with 12 swine and boar HEV strains of liver, feces, or serum origin at an HEV load of ≥2.0 × 104 copies per well and found that the HEV progeny replicated as efficiently as human HEV strains, with a maximum load of ~108 copies/ml. However, the HEV load in the culture medium at 30 days post-inoculation differed markedly by inoculum, ranging from 1.0 × 102 to 1.1 × 107 copies/ml upon inoculation at a lower load of approximately 105 copies per well. All progeny were passaged successfully onto A549 and PLC/PRF/5 cells. In sharp contrast, no progeny viruses were detectable in the culture supernatant upon inoculation with 13 swine and boar HEV strains at an HEV load of <1.8 × 104 copies per well. The present study also demonstrates that swine liver sold as food can be infectious, supporting the risk of zoonotic food-borne HEV infection.