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J Virol. 2004 Feb;78(3):1564-74.

Astrovirus-induced synthesis of nitric oxide contributes to virus control during infection.

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Department of Pathology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


Astrovirus is one of the major causes of infant and childhood diarrhea worldwide. Our understanding of astrovirus pathogenesis trails behind our knowledge of its molecular and epidemiologic properties. Using a recently developed small-animal model, we investigated the mechanisms by which astrovirus induces diarrhea and the role of both the adaptive and innate immune responses to turkey astrovirus type-2 (TAstV-2) infection. Astrovirus-infected animals were analyzed for changes in total lymphocyte populations, alterations in CD4(+)/CD8(+) ratios, production of virus-specific antibodies (Abs), and macrophage activation. There were no changes in the numbers of circulating or splenic lymphocytes or in CD4(+)/CD8(+) ratios compared to controls. Additionally, there was only a modest production of virus-specific Abs. However, adherent spleen cells from infected animals produced more nitric oxide (NO) in response to ex vivo stimulation with lipopolysaccharide. In vitro analysis demonstrated that TAstV-2 induced macrophage production of inducible nitric oxide synthase. Studies using NO donors and inhibitors in vivo demonstrated, for the first time, that NO inhibited astrovirus replication. These studies suggest that NO is important in limiting astrovirus replication and are the first, to our knowledge, to describe the potential role of innate immunity in astrovirus infection.

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