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Front Microbiol. 2019 Jul 9;10:1495. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01495. eCollection 2019.

Host Genetics, Innate Immune Responses, and Cellular Death Pathways in Poliomyelitis Patients.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.
Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Immunology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.
Specialized Hospital for Polio- and Accident Patients, Rødovre, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.



Poliovirus (PV) is one of the most studied viruses. Despite efforts to understand PV infection within the host, fundamental questions remain unanswered. These include the mechanisms determining the progression to viremia, the pathogenesis of neuronal infection and paralysis in only a minority of patients. Because of the rare disease phenotype of paralytic poliomyelitis (PPM), we hypothesize that a genetic etiology may contribute to the disease course and outcome.


We used whole-exome sequencing (WES) to investigate the genetic profile of 18 patients with PPM. Functional analyses were performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and monocyte-derived macrophages (MdMs).


We identified rare variants in host genes involved in interferon signaling, viral replication, apoptosis, and autophagy. Upon PV infection of MdMs, we observed a tendency toward increased viral burden in patients compared to controls, suggesting reduced control of PV infection. In MdMs from patients, the IFNβ response correlated with the viral burden.


We suggest that genetic variants in innate immune defenses and cell death pathways contribute to the clinical presentation of PV infection. Importantly, this study is the first to uncover the genetic profile in patients with PPM combined with investigations of immune responses and viral burden in primary cells.


apoptosis; autophagy; innate immunity; interferon; paralytic poliomyelitis; poliovirus; whole exome sequencing

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