Antibody response in snakes with boid inclusion body disease

Katharina Windbichler, Eleni Michalopoulou, Pia Palamides, Theresa Pesch, Christine Jelinek, Olli Vapalahti, Anja Kipar, Udo Hetzel, Jussi Hepojoki

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Boid Inclusion Body Disease (BIBD) is a potentially fatal disease reported in captive boid snakes worldwide that is caused by reptarenavirus infection. Although the detection of intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (IB) in blood cells serves as the gold standard for the ante mortem diagnosis of BIBD, the mechanisms underlying IB formation and the pathogenesis of BIBD are unknown. Knowledge on the reptile immune system is sparse compared to the mammalian counterpart, and in particular the response towards reptarenavirus infection is practically unknown. Herein, we investigated a breeding collection of 70 Boa constrictor snakes for BIBD, reptarenavirus viraemia, anti-reptarenavirus IgM and IgY antibodies, and population parameters. Using NGS and RT-PCR on pooled blood samples of snakes with and without BIBD, we could identify three different reptarenavirus S segments in the collection. The examination of individual samples by RT-PCR indicated that the presence of University of Giessen virus (UGV)-like S segment strongly correlates with IB formation. We could also demonstrate a negative correlation between BIBD and the presence of anti-UGV NP IgY antibodies. Further evidence of an association between antibody response and BIBD is the finding that the level of anti-reptarenavirus antibodies measured by ELISA was lower in snakes with BIBD. Furthermore, female snakes had a significantly lower body weight when they had BIBD. Taken together our findings suggest that the detection of the UGV-/S6-like S segment and the presence of anti-reptarenavirus IgY antibodies might serve as a prognostic tool for predicting the development of BIBD.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0221863
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 413 Veterinary science

Cite this

Windbichler, K., Michalopoulou, E., Palamides, P., Pesch, T., Jelinek, C., Vapalahti, O., ... Hepojoki, J. (2019). Antibody response in snakes with boid inclusion body disease. PLoS One, 14(9), [e0221863].