Rapamycin-induced autophagy restricts porcine epidemic diarrhea virus infectivity in porcine intestinal epithelial cells

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Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) invades porcine intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and causes diarrhea and dehydration in pigs. In the present study, we showed a suppression of PEDV infection in porcine jejunum intestinal epithelial cells (IPEC-J2) by an increase in autophagy. Autophagy was activated by rapamycin at a dose that does not affect cell viability and tight junction permeability. The induction of autophagy was examined by LC3I/LC3II conversion. To confirm the autophagic-flux (entire autophagy pathway), autophagolysosomes were examined by an immunofluorescence assay. Pre-treatment with rapamycin significantly restricted not only a 1 h infection but also a longer infection (24 h) with PEDV, while this effect disappeared when autophagy was blocked. Co-localization of PEDV and autophagosomes suggests that PEDV could be a target of autophagy. Moreover, alleviation of PEDV-induced cell death in IPEC-J2 cells pretreated with rapamycin demonstrates a protective effect of rapamycin against PEDV-induced epithelial cell death. Collectively, the present study suggests an early prevention against PEDV infection in IPEC-J2 cells via autophagy that might be an effective strategy for the restriction of PEDV, and opens up the possibility of the use of rapamycin in vivo as an effective prophylactic and prevention treatment.HighlightsRapamycin has an antiviral effect against PEDV infection.Rapamycin prevents PEDV-induced cell death.Rapamycin-induced autophagy restricted PEDV infection in porcine intestinal epithelial cells.

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