Differential responses in placenta and fetal thymus at 12 days post infection elucidate mechanisms of viral level and fetal compromise following PRRSV2 infection
A pregnant gilt infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) can transmit the virus to her fetuses across the maternal-fetal-interface resulting in varying disease outcomes. However, the mechanisms leading to variation in fetal outcome in response to PRRSV infection are not fully understood. Our objective was to assess targeted immune-related gene expression patterns and pathways in the placenta and fetal thymus to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in the
... ms involved in the resistance/tolerance and susceptibility of fetuses to PRRSV2 infection. Fetuses were grouped by preservation status and PRRS viral load (VL): mock infected control (CTRL), no virus detected (UNINF), virus detected in the placenta only with viable (PLCO-VIA) or meconium-stained fetus (PLCO-MEC), low VL with viable (LVL-VIA) or meconium-stained fetus (LVL-MEC), and high VL with viable (HVL-VIA) or meconium-stained fetus (HVL-MEC). Results: The host immune response was initiated only in fetuses with detectable levels of PRRSV. No differentially expressed genes (DEG) in either the placenta or thymus were identified in UNINF, PLCO-VIA, and PLCO-MEC when compared to CTRL fetuses. Upon fetal infection, a set of core responsive IFN-inducible genes (CXCL10, IFIH1, IFIT1, IFIT3, ISG15, and MX1) were strongly upregulated in both tissues. Gene expression in the thymus is a better differentiator of fetal VL; the strong downregulation of several innate and adaptive immune pathways (e.g., B Cell Development) are indicative of HVL. Gene expression in the placenta may be a better differentiator of fetal demise than the thymus, based-on principle component analysis clustering, gene expression patterns, and dysregulation of the Apoptosis and Ubiquitination pathways. Conclusion: Our data supports the concept that fetal outcome in response to PRRSV2 infection is determined by fetal, and more significantly placental response, which is initiated only after fetal infection. This conceptual model represents a significant step forward in understanding the mechanisms underpinning fetal susceptibility to the virus.