Swine influenza infections in porcine airway organoids

Researchers in this project initially cultivated miniature airways from cows, pigs, and other animal species. Starting in 2023, the project has shifted its focus towards the cultivation of pig organoids and their exposure to swine influenza infections.

Influenza A virus (IAV) infections cause disease in humans, poultry and wild birds, but are also an important cause of respiratory infections in pigs. Swine IAV (IAVsw) infections can result in severe disease, and have a high impact on the pig sector. In addition, zoonotic IAVsw infections can also be relevant for public health. Pigs have been proposed as a potential ‘mixing vessel’ for the exchange of genetic segments (‘reassortment’), potentially resulting in viruses with increased fitness in novel hosts. In the context of zoonotic awareness, surveillance of IAV strains that circulate in animal species is crucial.

Progress (September 2023)

In the first two years of the NLAS CCS Airway project (2021-2022), the researchers have developed porcine respiratory organoid-based air-liquid interface (ALI) cultures, and successfully performed pilot infection studies with three IAVsw strains.

In 2023 and 2024, this project will be extended to study the impact of both viral and host factors. The researchers will obtain and characterise primary IAVsw isolates, and use these to study the impact of airway defences and sialylation of IAV receptors on the susceptibility and permissiveness of porcine airway ALI cultures to IAVsw infection.

In addition to the aforementioned follow-up project, the original project also gave rise to the new project AIR-MUNE.