Characteristics of Nipah virus and Hendra virus replication in different cell lines and their suitability for antiviral screening

Mohamad Aljofan, Simon Saubern, Adam G. Meyer, Glenn Marsh, Joanne Meers, Bruce A. Mungall

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28 Citations (Scopus)


We have recently described the development and validation of a high throughput screening assay suitable for henipavirus antiviral identification. While we are confident this assay is robust and effective, we wished to investigate assay performance in a range of alternative cell lines to determine if assay sensitivity and specificity could be improved. We evaluated ten different cell lines for their susceptibility to Hendra and Nipah virus infection and their sensitivity of detection of the effects of the broad spectrum antiviral, ribavirin and nine novel antivirals identified using our initial screening approach. Cell lines were grouped into three categories with respect to viral replication. Virus replicated best in Vero and BSR cells, followed by Hep-2, HeLa, BHK-21 and M17 cells. The lowest levels of RNA replication and viral protein expression were observed in BAEC, MMEC, A549 and ECV304 cells. Eight cell lines appeared to be similarly effective at discriminating the antiviral effects of ribavirin (<2.7-fold difference). The two cells lines most sensitive to the effect of ribavirin (ECV304 and BAEC) also displayed the lowest levels of viral replication while Vero cells were the least sensitive suggesting excess viral replication may limit drug efficacy and cell lines which limit viral replication may result in enhanced antiviral efficacy. However, there was no consistent trend observed with the other nine antivirals tested. While improvements in antiviral sensitivity in other cell lines may indicate an important role in future HTS assays, the slightly lower sensitivity to antiviral detection in Vero cells has inherent advantages in reducing the number of partially effective lead molecules identified during initial screens. Comparison of a panel of 54 novel antiviral compounds identified during routine screening of an in-house compound library in Vero, BHK-21 and BSR cells suggests no clear advantage of screening in either cell type. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-99
Number of pages8
JournalVirus Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiviral
  • BSL4
  • Hendra virus
  • HTS assays
  • Nipah virus
  • Ribavirin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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