Ebola Resource Center
Ebola Resource Center
December 21, 2017
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Some Ebola survivors have antibodies 40 years after infection

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Some survivors of the 1976 Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo still had antibodies against the virus 40 years after they were infected, according to researchers.

A few even retained antibodies that neutralized live Ebola virus (EBOV) in vitro, the researchers wrote in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“The duration of the anti-Ebola humoral response fills a knowledge gap within the field and provides evidence that infection with EBOV can trigger a life-long humoral immune response and, in instances, neutralize live virus in vitro,” researcher Anne W. Rimoin, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues wrote.

Previous research showed that survivors had EBOV antibody responses 11 years after infection.

In January 2016, the researchers searched DRC Health Ministry records to find 14 survivors of the 1976 outbreak in Yambuku. They took blood specimens from the survivors and measured their immunoactivity to three types of EBOV proteins — glycoprotein (GP), nucleoprotein (NP) and viral matrix protein 40 (VP40).

Nearly all the survivors showed mild/moderate or strong reactivity to GP and NP, but only three had reactivity against VP40. Four survivors had antibodies that could neutralize Ebola pseudovirus, and four had antibodies that could neutralize live EBOV in vitro, the researchers said.

Their data add to immunological evidence that could offer a way to develop Ebola therapies and vaccines, they said.

“Currently, there is a growing body of evidence that offers hope for finding ways to pharmacologically mimic or boost the natural resistance that some individuals appear to have toward EBOV infection,” Rimoin and colleagues wrote. “Studies of EVD survivors may provide critical data to inform strategies for mimicking the resilience, which some individuals have demonstrated when infected with EBOV.” – by Joe Green

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.