Modulation of chemokine and chemokine receptor expression following infection of porcine macrophages with African swine fever virus

African swine fever virus (ASFV) is the only member of the Asfarviridae, a large DNA virus family which replicates predominantly in the cytoplasm. Most isolates cause a fatal haemorrhagic disease in domestic pigs, although some low virulence isolates cause little or no mortality. The modulation of chemokine responses following infection of porcine macrophages with low and high virulence isolates was studied to indicate how this may be involved in the induction of pathogenesis and of effective immune responses. Infection with both low and high virulence isolates resulted in down-regulation of mRNA levels for chemokines CCL2, CCL3L, CXCL2 and chemokine receptors CCR1, CCR5, CXCR3, CXCR4 and up-regulation in expression of mRNAs for CCL4, CXCL10 and chemokine receptor CCR7. Levels of CCL4, CXCL8, CXCL10 mRNAs were higher in macrophages infected with low virulence isolate OURT88/3 compared to high virulence isolate Benin 97/1. Levels of CXCL8 and CCL2 protein were significantly reduced in supernatants from macrophages infected with Benin 97/1 isolate compared to OURT88/3 and mock-infected macrophages. There was also a decreased chemotactic response of donor cells exposed to supernatants from Benin 97/1 infected macrophages compared to those from OURT88/3 and mock-infected macrophages. The data show that infection of macrophages with the low virulence strain OURT88/3 induces higher expression of key inflammatory chemokines compared to infection with high virulence strain Benin 97/1. This may be important for the induction of effective protective immunity that has been observed in pigs immunised with the OURT88/3 isolate.

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