Ebola virus (EBOV) survivors are affected by a variety of serious illnesses of unknown origin for years after viral clearance from the circulation. Identifying the causes of these persistent illnesses is paramount to develop appropriate therapeutic protocols. In this study, using mouse and non-human primates which survived EBOV challenge, ELISA, western blot, mass spectrometry and flow cytometry were used to screen for autoantibodies, identify their main targets, investigate the mechanism behind their induction and monitor autoantibodies accumulation in various tissues. In infected mice and NHP, polyclonal B cell activation and autoantigens secretion induced autoantibodies against dsDNA and heat shock protein 60 as well as antibody accumulation in tissues associated with long-term clinical manifestations in humans. Finally, the presence of these autoantibodies was confirmed in human EBOV survivors. Overall, this study supports the concept that autoimmunity is a causative parameter that contributes to the various illnesses observed in EBOV survivors.
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