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Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a complex infectious disease characterized by high inflammation, multiorgan failure, the dysregulation of innate and adaptive immune responses, and coagulation abnormalities. Evidence accumulated over the last 2 decades indicates that, during fatal EVD, the infection of antigen-presenting cells (APC) and the dysregulation of T cell immunity preclude a successful transition between innate and adaptive immunity, which constitutes a key disease checkpoint. In order to better understand the contribution of the APC-T cell crosstalk to EVD pathophysiology, we have developed avatar mice transplanted with human, donor-specific APCs and T cells. Here, we show that the transplantation of T cells and APCs from Ebola virus (EBOV)-naive individuals into avatar mice results in severe disease and death and that this phenotype is dependent on T cell receptor (TCR)-major histocompatibility complex (MCH) recognition. Conversely, avatar mice were rescued from death induced by EBOV infection after the transplantation of both T cells and plasma from EVD survivors. These results strongly suggest that protection from EBOV reinfection requires both cellular and humoral immune memory responses. IMPORTANCE The crosstalk between dendritic cells and T cells marks the transition between innate and adaptive immune responses, and it constitutes an important checkpoint in EVD. In this study, we present a mouse avatar model in which T cell and dendritic cell interactions from a specific donor can be studied during EVD. Our findings indicate that T cell receptor-major histocompatibility complex-mediated T cell-dendritic cell interactions are associated with disease severity, which mimics the main features of severe EVD in these mice. Resistance to an EBOV challenge in the model was achieved via the transplantation of both survivor T cells and plasma.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of virology

Publication Date



Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicinegrid.424065.1, Hamburg, Germany.