Study of Infection, Immunity, Vaccine and Therapeutics Using Gnotobiotic Pig Models of Human Enteric Viruses
With the absence of gut microbiota, gnotobiotic (Gn) pigs are a unique animal model for studying infection and immunity, and evaluating vaccine and therapeutics for human enteric pathogens. Here, we demonstrate Gn pigs as effective large animal models for human enteric viruses, through evaluating human enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection and immunity, and vaccine and therapeutics for human rotavirus (HRV). Gn pigs could be infected via oral or oronasal route, the natural route of infection. Infected pigs developed clinical signs including fever, neurological and respiratory signs, similar to those seen in human patients. Fecal shedding up to 18 days post infection and virus distribution in intestinal, respiratory and central nervous system tissues were observed. Strong mucosal and systemic T cell responses (IFN-γ producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells) and systemic B cell responses (serum neutralizing antibodies) were also detected. The study demonstrates a novel large animal model for EV71 to investigate viral pathogenesis, immunity, and to evaluate vaccine and antiviral drugs. Using the well-established Gn pig model for HRV, the adjuvant and therapeutic effects of prebiotics rice bran (RB) and probiotics were evaluated. RB alone or RB plus probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and probiotic E. coli Nissle 1917 (EcN), were shown to protect against rotavirus diarrhea (80%-100% reduction in the incidence rate) significantly and display strong immune - stimulatory effects on the immunogenicity of an oral attenuated HRV (AttHRV) vaccine. Mechanisms for the adjuvant effect include stimulating the production of intestinal and systemic IFN-γ] producing T cells and promoting mucosal IgA antibody responses. The mechanisms for reducing rotavirus diarrhea include promoting LGG and EcN growth and colonization and host gut health, and maintaining gut integrity and permeability during rotavirus infection. We showed that RB plus LGG and EcN is a highly effective therapeutic regimen against HRV diarrhea. Together, these results indicated that Gn pigs may serve as an excellent animal model for the study of infection, immunity, vaccine and therapeutics for human enteric viruses.