The major targets of acute norovirus infection are immune cells in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue

Katrina R. Grau, Alexa N. Roth, Shu Zhu, Abel Hernandez, Natacha Colliou, Bayli B. Divita, Drake T. Philip, Cara Riffe, Benoit Giasson, Shannon M. Wallet, Mansour Mohamadzadeh, Stephanie M. Karst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Noroviruses are the leading cause of food-borne gastroenteritis outbreaks and childhood diarrhoea globally, estimated to be responsible for 200,000 deaths in children each year 1-4 . Thus, reducing norovirus-associated disease is a critical priority. Development of vaccines and therapeutics has been hindered by the limited understanding of basic norovirus pathogenesis and cell tropism. While macrophages, dendritic cells, B cells and stem-cell-derived enteroids can all support infection of certain noroviruses in vitro 5-7, efforts to define in vivo norovirus cell tropism have generated conflicting results. Some studies detected infected intestinal immune cells 8-12, other studies detected epithelial cells 13, and still others detected immune and epithelial cells 14-16 . Major limitations of these studies are that they were performed on tissue sections from immunocompromised or germ-free hosts, chronically infected hosts where the timing of infection was unknown, or following non-biologically relevant inoculation routes. Here, we report that the dominant cellular targets of a murine norovirus inoculated orally into immunocompetent mice are macrophages, dendritic cells, B cells and T cells in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. Importantly, we also demonstrate that a norovirus can infect T cells, a previously unrecognized target, in vitro. These findings represent the most extensive analyses to date of in vivo norovirus cell tropism in orally inoculated, immunocompetent hosts at the peak of acute infection and thus they significantly advance our basic understanding of norovirus pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1586-1591
Number of pages6
JournalNature Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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