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Developed an immortalized porcine kidney macrophage cell line, IPKM, supporting efficient replication of African swine fever virus

- a milestone toward development of African swine fever vaccine -

Updated:March 18, 2021 (Thursday)

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has developed an innovative (immortalized) porcine cell line that can be subcultured and allows stable in vitro propagation of African swine fever virus. This technique supports detailed investigation of the virus, including the pathogenesis, the improvement of diagnostic procedures and the development of quality vaccines against this pandemic disease.

African swine fever (ASF), a disease with high mortality rates of pigs and wild boars, is rapidly spreading from Europe to Asia in these 15 years; its entering Japan is one of major concerns. The causative pathogen, ASF virus (ASFV), is biologically unique and dissimilar to any other known viruses; its origin and ecology remain obscure. There have been no effective methods established for preventing or treating the disease, including vaccines. As ASFV infects porcine macrophages and monocytes and propagates within the cells, primary culture of macrophages isolated from pig has been used to study ASFV. However, in vitro primary macrophage culture is difficult to maintain; hence it is difficult to propagate the virus in a cell culture system, investigate the virus and develop efficacious vaccines against the disease.
NARO established an immortalized porcine macrophage cell line, IPKM, which can be subcultured in vitro, by immortalizing macrophages isolated from porcine kidney via gene manipulation. This cell line is highly sensitive to ASFV infection and supports efficient propagation of the virus. The cell line exhibits cytopathic effects and hemoadsorption reactions like infected macrophages, demonstrating having the same characteristics as primary macrophages.
The IPKM cell line allows efficient propagation of ASFV while minimizing viral mutation and using no animal. As it allows detailed analysis of the biological characteristics of the virus, including pathogenicity, it would be useful for the improvement of diagnostic methods and accelerate the development of vaccine. Moreover, the IPKM cell line will be a useful platform for stable production of forthcoming ASF vaccine, which is free from risks of contamination by adventitious pathogens originated from animals.
Scientific Reports 11, 4759 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-84237-2

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