Background The ongoing Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections pose threats to public health worldwide, making an understanding of MERS pathogenesis and development of effective medical countermeasures (MCMs) urgent. Methods We used homozygous (+/+) and heterozygous (+/-) human dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (hDPP4) transgenic mice to study the effect of hDPP4 on MERS-CoV infection. Specifically, we determined values of 50% lethal dose (LD 50) of MERS-CoV for the 2 strains of mice, compared and correlated their levels of soluble (s)hDPP4 expression to susceptibility, and explored recombinant (r)shDPP4 as an effective MCM for MERS infection. Results hDPP4 +/+ mice were unexpectedly more resistant than hDPP4 +/- mice to MERS-CoV infection, as judged by increased LD 50, reduced lung viral infection, attenuated morbidity and mortality, and reduced histopathology. Additionally, the resistance to MERS-CoV infection directly correlated with increased serum shDPP4 and serum virus neutralizing activity. Finally, administration of rshDPP4 led to reduced lung virus titer and histopathology. Conclusions Our studies suggest that the serum shDPP4 levels play a role in MERS pathogenesis and demonstrate a potential of rshDPP4 as a treatment option for MERS. Additionally, it offers a validated pair of Tg mice strains for characterizing the effect of shDPP4 on MERS pathogenesis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support. This work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (grant numbers R21AI113206 to C.-T. K. T. and R01AI110700 to F.L).
- MERS pathogenesis
- Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus
- human DPP4
- medical countermeasures for MERS
- transgenic mice