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Polar release of pathogenic Old World hantaviruses from renal tubular epithelial cells

Ellen Krautkrämer1*, Maik J Lehmann2, Vanessa Bollinger1 and Martin Zeier1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nephrology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 162, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany

2 Institute for Biology, Molecular Parasitology, Humboldt-UniversityBerlin, Berlin, Germany

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:299  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-299

Published: 30 November 2012



Epithelio- and endotheliotropic viruses often exert polarized entry and release that may be responsible for viral spread and dissemination. Hantaviruses, mostly rodent-borne members of the Bunyaviridae family infect epithelial and endothelial cells of different organs leading to organ dysfunction or even failure. Endothelial and renal epithelial cells belong to the target cells of Old World hantavirus. Therefore, we examined the release of hantaviruses in several renal epithelial cell culture models. We used Vero cells that are commonly used in hantavirus studies and primary human renal epithelial cells (HREpC). In addition, we analyzed MDCKII cells, an epithelial cell line of a dog kidney, which represents a widely accepted in vitro model of polarized monolayers for their permissiveness for hantavirus infection.


Vero C1008 and primary HREpCs were grown on porous-support filter inserts for polarization. Monolayers were infected with hantavirus Hantaan (HTNV) and Puumala (PUUV) virus. Supernatants from the apical and basolateral chamber of infected cells were analyzed for the presence of infectious particles by re-infection of Vero cells. Viral antigen and infectious particles of HTNV and PUUV were exclusively detected in supernatants collected from the apical chamber of infected Vero C1008 cells and HREpCs. MDCKII cells were permissive for hantavirus infection and polarized MDCKII cells released infectious hantaviral particles from the apical surface corresponding to the results of Vero and primary human epithelial cells.


Pathogenic Old World hantaviruses are released from the apical surface of different polarized renal epithelial cells. We characterized MDCKII cells as a suitable polarized cell culture model for hantavirus infection studies.

Hantavirus; Release; Polarized epithelia; Kidney; HFRS; MDCK