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Recent studies have shown that transcriptomic analysis of blood samples taken from patients with acute Ebola virus disease (EVD) during the 2013-2016 West African outbreak was suggestive that a severe inflammatory response took place in acutely ill patients. The significant knowledge gained from studying the Makona variant, a cause of the largest known EVD outbreak, may be applicable to other species of ebolavirus, and other variants of the Ebola virus (EBOV) species. To investigate the ability of Makona to initiate an inflammatory response in human macrophages and characterise the host response in a similar manner to previously characterised EBOV variants, the human monocytic cell line THP-1 was differentiated into macrophage-like cells and infected with Makona. RNA-Seq and quantitative proteomics were used to identify and quantify host mRNA and protein abundance during infection. Data from infection with Reston virus (RESTV) were used as comparators to investigate changes that may be specific to, or enhanced in, Makona infection in relation to a less pathogenic species of ebolavirus.. This study found demonstrable induction of the inflammatory response, and increase in the activation state of THP-1 macrophages infected with Makona. NFκB and inflammation-associated transcripts displayed significant changes in abundance, reflective of what was observed in human patients during the 2013-2016 EBOV outbreak in West Africa, and demonstrated that transcriptomic changes found in Makona-infected cells were similar to that observed in Reston virus infection and that have been described in previous studies of other variants of EBOV.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Public Health England, Manor Farm Road, Porton Down, Salisbury SP4 OJG, UK.


Macrophages, Humans, Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola, Interferons, Cytokines, Gene Expression Profiling, Proteomics, Gene Expression Regulation, Ebolavirus, THP-1 Cells