Asian elephant T cell responses to elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus

Angela Fuery, Ann M. Leen, Rongsheng Peng, Matthew C. Wong, Hao Liu, Paul D. Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can cause lethal hemorrhagic disease in juvenile Asian elephants, an endangered species. One hypothesis to explain this vulnerability of some juvenile elephants is that they fail to mount an effective T cell response to the virus. To our knowledge, there have been no studies of Asian elephant T cell responses to EEHV. To address this deficiency, we validated the gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot assay for tracking antigendirected T cell activity by monitoring rabies-specific responses in vaccinated elephants. In addition, we generated monoclonal antibodies to Asian elephant CD4 and CD8 to facilitate phenotypic T cell profiling. Using these tools, we screened healthy elephants with a history of EEHV infection for reactivity against nine EEHV proteins whose counterparts in other herpesviruses are known to induce T cell responses in their natural hosts. We identified glycoprotein B (gB) and the putative regulatory protein E40 as the most immunogenic T cell targets (IFN-γ responses in five of seven elephants), followed by the major capsid protein (IFN-γ responses in three of seven elephants). We also observed that IFN-γ responses were largely from CD4 + T cells. We detected no activity against the predicted major immediate early (E44) and large tegument (E34) proteins, both immunodominant T cell targets in humans latently infected with cytomegalovirus. These studies identified EEHV-specific T cells in Asian elephants for the first time, lending insight into the T cell priming that might be required to protect against EEHV disease, and will guide the design of effective vaccine strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01951-17
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Asian elephant
  • EEHV
  • ELISpot
  • IFN-γ
  • T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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  • Cite this

    Fuery, A., Leen, A. M., Peng, R., Wong, M. C., Liu, H., & Ling, P. D. (2018). Asian elephant T cell responses to elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus. Journal of virology, 92(6), [e01951-17].