Our lab studies the host and viral determinants of disease induced by arthritogenic alphaviruses. My project focuses on the pathogenesis and persistence of chikungunya virus. Chikungunya virus is currently causing ongoing outbreaks in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific region where it is spread by the bite of Aedes species mosquitos. In December of 2013, for the first time since its discovery, local epidemics of chikungunya have occurred in the Americas. The wide distribution of the mosquito vectors in the Americas has prompted concern that chikungunya epidemics may present a severe public health burden in these regions.
Acute human disease caused by chikungunya is characterized by a sudden onset of fever and most notably severe and incapacitating musculoskeletal disease typically in the peripheral joints. The majority of those infected will be symptomatic. Fortunately, chikungunya is rarely fatal. However, while for some these symptoms resolve in a few weeks, up to 60% of patients report ongoing symptoms for months to years after acute onset. The cause of this chronic disease remains to be elucidated.
Our lab utilizes a mouse model of disease to investigate chikungunya virus pathogenesis. We have recently reported that chikungunya virus can persist for months post inoculation in immune-competent mice and this persistence is associated with chronic joint pathology. We are now using this mouse model to investigate the host and viral determinants of chikungunya virus persistence and chronic disease.
D. W., Stoermer, K. a., Montgomery, S. a., Pal, P., Oko, L., Diamond, M. S.,
& Morrison, T. E. (2013). Chronic Joint Disease Caused by Persistent
Chikungunya Virus Infection Is Controlled by the Adaptive Immune Response. Journal
of Virology, 87(24), 13878–13888. doi:10.1128/JVI.02666-13