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Bank vole immunoheterogeneity may limit Nephropatia Epidemica emergence in a French non-endemic region

  • A. DUBOIS (a1) (a2), G. CASTEL (a1), S. MURRI (a2), C. PULIDO (a3), J.-B. PONS (a4), L. BENOIT (a5), A. LOISEAU (a1), L. LAKHDAR (a3), M. GALAN (a1), P. MARIANNEAU (a2) and N. CHARBONNEL (a1)...


Ecoevolutionary processes affecting hosts, vectors and pathogens are important drivers of zoonotic disease emergence. In this study, we focused on nephropathia epidemica (NE), which is caused by Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) whose natural reservoir is the bank vole, Myodes glareolus. We questioned the possibility of NE emergence in a French region that is considered to be NE-free but that is adjacent to a NE-endemic region. We first confirmed the epidemiology of these two regions and we demonstrated the absence of spatial barriers that could have limited dispersal, and consequently, the spread of PUUV into the NE-free region. We next tested whether regional immunoheterogeneity could impact PUUV chances to circulate and persist in the NE-free region. We showed that bank voles from the NE-free region were sensitive to experimental PUUV infection. We observed high levels of immunoheterogeneity between individuals and also between regions. Antiviral gene expression (Tnf and Mx2) reached higher levels in bank voles from the NE-free region. During experimental infections, anti-PUUV antibody production was higher in bank voles from the NE-endemic region. These results indicated a lower susceptibility to PUUV for bank voles from this NE-free region, which might limit PUUV persistence and therefore, the risk of NE.


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*Corresponding author. N. Charbonnel, Centre de Biologie pour la Gestion des Populations, Montferrier sur Lez, France. E-mail:


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These authors contributed equally to this work.



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