2014.02.12 Press Release

Analysis of the acute respiratory infections causing virus strain

A research group led by Professor Hitoshi Oshitani and Assistant Professor Michiko Okamoto of the Department of Virology at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine has revealed, for the first time in the world, the antigenic and receptor binding properties of Enterovirus 68 (EV68) which has recently been detected around the world.

EV68 was first isolated in 1962 as the cause of acute respiratory infections and up until the early 2000’s, the detection of EV68 was a rare occurrence. During the latter half of the 2000’s, an increased rate of detection was reported worldwide. However, the virological factors which caused this worldwide spread of EV68 have not been clearly identified.

Led by Graduate Student Tadatsugu Imamura of the Department of Virology at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, the antigenicity and the receptor binding properties related to the tissue affinity required for cell adhesion was analyzed. The analysis revealed that the recent EV68 had distinctly different antigenic properties from the previous strains, and in addition, the recent EV68 were composed of multiple strains that were antigenically distinct.

In addition, it became clear the EV68 has a higher affinity towards the sugar chain located in the upper respiratory track (α2-6-linked sialic acid) compared to the sugar chain (α2-3-linked sialic acid) located in the lower respiratory tract.

This research established that the recent worldwide spread of EV68 may have been caused by the emergence of new antigenically distinct viruses strains and that the EV68 has an affinity towards the human upper respiratory tract. The findings of this research is hoped to contribute towards elucidating the epidemiology and pathology of EV68.

The research results will be published in the online edition of the Journal of Virology on February 6, 2014 (EST). The paper’s title is “Antigenic and Receptor Binding Properties of Enterovirus 68.”

(About the research)
Professor Hitoshi Oshitani
Department of Virology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine
TEL: +81-22-717-8213
E-mail: oshitanih* (Replace * with @)

(Public Relations)
Lecturer Hitoshi Inada
Public Relations Office of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine
TEL: +81-22-717-7891 FAX: +81-22-717-8187
E-mail: hinada* (Replace * with @)