HEV is the most causative agent of acute viral hepatitis globally. HEV causes acute, chronic, and extrahepatic manifestations. Chronic HEV infection develops in immunocompromised patients such as organ transplant patients, HIV-infected patients, and leukemic patients. The source of chronic HEV infection is not known. Also, the source of extrahepatic manifestations associated with HEV infection is still unclear. Hepatotropic viruses such as HCV and HBV replicate in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and these cells become a source of chronic reactivation of the infections in allograft organ transplant patients. Herein, we reported that PBMCs and bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs), isolated from healthy donors (n = 3), are susceptible to HEV in vitro. Human monocytes (HMOs), human macrophages (HMACs), and human BMDMs were challenged with HEV-1 and HEV-3 viruses. HEV RNA was measured by qPCR, the marker of the intermediate replicative form (ds-RNA) was assessed by immunofluorescence, and HEV capsid protein was assessed by flow cytometry and ELISA. HEV infection was successfully established in primary HMOs, HMACs, and human BMDMs, but not in the corresponding cells of murine origin. Intermediate replicative form (ds RNA) was detected in HMOs and HMACs challenged with HEV. The HEV load was increased over time, and the HEV capsid protein was detected intracellularly in the HEV-infected cells and accumulated extracellularly over time, confirming that HEV completes the life cycle inside these cells. The HEV particles produced from the infected BMDMs were infectious to naive HMOs in vitro. The HEV viral load was comparable in HEV-1- and HEV-3-infected cells, but HEV-1 induced more inflammatory responses. In conclusion, HMOs, HMACs, and human BMDMs are permissive to HEV infection and these cells could be the source of chronic and recurrent infection, especially in immunocompromised patients. Replication of HEV in human BMDMs could be related to hematological disorders associated with extrahepatic manifestations.
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