UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Innate antiviral defense demonstrates high energetic efficiency in a bony fish Polinski, Mark P.; Zhang, Yangfan; Morrison, Phillip; Marty, Gary D.; Farrell, Anthony Peter, 1952-; Garver, Kyle A.


Background Viruses can impose energetic demands on organisms they infect, in part by hosts mounting resistance. Recognizing that oxygen uptake reliably indicates steady-state energy consumption in all vertebrates, we comprehensively evaluated oxygen uptake and select transcriptomic messaging in sockeye salmon challenged with either a virulent rhabdovirus (IHNV) or a low-virulent reovirus (PRV). We tested three hypotheses relating to the energetic costs of viral resistance and tolerance in this vertebrate system: (1) mounting resistance incurs a metabolic cost or limitation, (2) induction of the innate antiviral interferon system compromises homeostasis, and (3) antiviral defenses are weakened by acute stress. Results IHNV infections either produced mortality within 1–4 weeks or the survivors cleared infections within 1–9 weeks. Transcription of three interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) was strongly correlated with IHNV load but not respiratory performance. Instead, early IHNV resistance was associated with a mean 19% (95% CI = 7–31%; p = 0.003) reduction in standard metabolic rate. The stress of exhaustive exercise did not increase IHNV transcript loads, but elevated host inflammatory transcriptional signaling up to sevenfold. For PRV, sockeye tolerated high-load systemic PRV blood infections. ISG transcription was transiently induced at peak PRV loads without associated morbidity, microscopic lesions, or major changes in aerobic or anaerobic respiratory performance, but some individuals with high-load blood infections experienced a transient, minor reduction in hemoglobin concentration and increased duration of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Conclusions Contrary to our first hypothesis, effective resistance against life-threatening rhabdovirus infections or tolerance to high-load reovirus infections incurred minimal metabolic costs to salmon. Even robust systemic activation of the interferon system did not levy an allostatic load sufficient to compromise host homeostasis or respiratory performance, rejecting our second hypothesis that this ancient innate vertebrate antiviral defense is itself energetically expensive. Lastly, an acute stress experienced during testing did not weaken host antiviral defenses sufficiently to promote viral replication; however, a possibility for disease intensification contingent upon underlying inflammation was indicated. These data cumulatively demonstrate that fundamental innate vertebrate defense strategies against potentially life-threatening viral exposure impose limited putative costs on concurrent aerobic or energetic demands of the organism.

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