Stem cell lines to aid study of host-pathogen interactions in pigs

A method of producing immune cells from stem cells for research into pig infectious diseases is affordable, practical and ethical, a study led by scientists from the Roslin Institute suggests. The use of porcine pluripotent stem cell lines as a source of macrophages, is described in BMC Biology.

Investigations using the technique will benefit from access to an unlimited number of macrophages, which are easy to manipulate and can be infected by pathogens, the researchers say. The method reduces the need for animals in research and is less costly than conventional procedures, which use macrophages extracted from slaughtered animals and require continuous replacement.

The technique could be used to produce virus for the development of live vaccines. Stem cell-derived macrophages can also be gene edited for targeted studies of the role of genetics in infections, for biotechnology applications, and to generate bespoke engineered cells for experiments.

Scientists produced macrophages from pig stem cells through a protocol adapted from a method used for mouse and human cells, and observed they had similar features to macrophages used in existing procedures.

The stem cell-derived macrophages served as targets for infection by important pig pathogens, such as Salmonella, African swine fever virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, experiments have shown.

Article: Meek, S., Watson, T., Eory, L., McFarlane, G., Wynne, F. J., McCleary, S., Dunn, L., Charlton, E. M., Craig, C., Shih, B., Regan, T., Taylor, R., Sutherland, L., Gossner, A., Chintoan-Uta, C., Fletcher, S., Beard, P. M., Hassan, M. A., Grey, F., Hope, J. C., Stevens, M. P., Nowak-Imialek, M., Niemann, H., Ross, P, J,, Tait-Burkard, C., Brown, S. M., Lefevre, L., Thomson, G., McColl, B. W., Lawrence, A. B., Archibald, A. L., Steinbach, F., Crooke, H. R., Gao, X., Liu, P., Burdon, T. (2022). Stem cell-derived porcine macrophages as a new platform for studying host-pathogen interactions. BMC Biology, 20, 14, doi: 10.1186/s12915-021-01217-8

[SOURCE: The Roslin Institute]