Equine herpesvirus study to unravel how virus unlocks immune system 'gate'

January 19, 2012

A Colorado State University study will look at how equine herpesvirus type 1 may compromise the immune system immediately upon entering the “gate” of a horse’s respiratory system – the airway and throat – allowing it to spread through the body and potentially cause neurological damage, abortion and possibly death.

The study specifically concentrates on the lining of the respiratory systems, called the epithelium, which keeps the airway moist and is a barrier to pathogens. The epithelial cells also serve a critical function in shaping the immunological response, including secreting chemicals to attack pathogens and determining and initiating the cascade of immune responses in the rest of the body.

“We believe that the herpesvirus finds a way to ‘hide’ from the immune response, and we also know that if an immune system doesn’t trigger a good response at the first sign of infection, viruses like this one take off,” said Gabrielle Landolt, a CSU veterinarian and a co-lead researcher on the project. "That combination of events may take place in the horse’s respiratory system, and if we can crack the equine herpesevirus secret to getting through that gateway and compromising the immune system at that point of entry, we may be better able to find treatments and preventative measures to stop outbreaks of the virus.”

“The outcome of this research will also help scientists understand how herpes viruses in all species may impact immune systems,” said Gisela Hussey, also a veterinarian at CSU, who is leading the project. “This study is innovative because it is the first study to focus on defining the immune responses at the respiratory epithelium and how the virus controls the .”

Equine herpesevirus-1 is spread through nose-to-nose contact and through close contact with contaminated equipment, clothing and water and feed. The pathogen also may spread for a limited distance through the air. There are several types of equine herpesevirus, and there also are herpes strains that impact virtually every species. However, the virus does not jump from species to species.

The researchers are conducting the study on actual equine epithelium cells from deceased horses whose owners have volunteered the tissue for the research. The use of these cells in a model that mimics the actual response in a living horse also is novel in this research area.

Explore further: Clothing, food and electricity impact most on water footprint

Related Stories

Recognizing blood poisoning quickly

December 2, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Is the patient suffering from blood poisoning? To answer this question, the doctor draws a blood sample and sends it to a central laboratory for testing. This takes up valuable time, which could cost the ...

Leonardo da Vinci's tree rule may be explained by wind

January 4, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- More than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci observed a particular relationship between the size of a tree’s trunk and the size of its branches. Specifically, the combined cross-sectional areas of a tree’s ...

Recommended for you

New avenue for understanding cause of common diseases

August 25, 2016

A ground-breaking Auckland study could lead to discoveries about many common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia. The new finding could also illuminate the broader role of the enigmatic mitochondria in human development.

Basic research fuels advanced discovery

August 26, 2016

Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind's most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.