Potential for Autoimmune Pathogenesis of Rift Valley Fever Virus Retinitis

Shoshana Newman-Gerhardt Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Samuel Muiruri Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Eric Muchiri Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Clarence J. Peters Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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John Morrill Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Alexander H. Lucas Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Charles H. King Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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James Kazura Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Angelle Desiree LaBeaud Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California; Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a significant threat to human health because it can progress to retinitis, encephalitis, and hemorrhagic fever. The timing of onset of Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV) retinitis suggests an autoimmune origin. To determine whether RVFV retinitis is associated with increased levels of IgG against retinal tissue, we measured and compared levels of IgG against healthy human eye tissue by immunohistochemical analysis. We found that serum samples from RVFV-exposed Kenyans with retinitis (n = 8) were slightly more likely to have antibodies against retinal tissue than control populations, but the correlation was not statistically significant. Further investigation into the possible immune pathogenesis of RVFV retinitis could lead to improved therapies to prevent or treat this severe complication.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Shoshana Newman-Gerhardt, National Institutes of Health, Building 29B, Room 2c17, 29 Lincoln Way, Bethesda, MD 20892. E-mail: snhypheng@gmail.com

Financial support: This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant U54AI057160; the Midwest Regional Center of Excellence Program Project Award, International Collaborations in Infectious Disease Research ICIDR Biodefense Supplement grant U01AI45473, the Robert E. Shope International Fellowship in Infectious Diseases, and the Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

Authors' addresses: Shoshana Newman-Gerhardt, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, E-mail: snhypheng@gmail.com. Samuel Muiruri, Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya, E-mail: muiruri1001@yahoo.com. Eric Muchiri, Division of Vector Borne and Neglected Diseases, Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, Nairobi, Kenya, E-mail: ericmmuchiri@gmail.com. Clarence J. Peters, Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, E-mail: cjpeters@utmb.edu. John Morrill, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, E-mail: jcmorril@utmb.edu. Alexander H. Lucas and Angelle Desiree LaBeaud, Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA, E-mails: alucas@chori.org and alabeaud@chori.org. Charles H. King and James Kazura, Center for Global Health, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, E-mails: chk@case.edu and jxk14@po.cwru.edu.

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