Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an emerging alphavirus, has infected millions of people. However, the factors modulating disease outcome remain poorly understood. Here, we show in germ-free mice or in oral antibiotic-treated conventionally housed mice with depleted intestinal microbiomes that greater CHIKV infection and spread occurs within 1 day of virus inoculation. Alteration of the microbiome alters TLR7-MyD88 signaling in plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and blunts systemic production of type I interferon (IFN). Consequently, circulating monocytes express fewer IFN-stimulated genes and become permissive for CHIKV infection. Reconstitution with a single bacterial species, Clostridium scindens, or its derived metabolite, the secondary bile acid deoxycholic acid, can restore pDC- and MyD88-dependent type I IFN responses to restrict systemic CHIKV infection and transmission back to vector mosquitoes. Thus, symbiotic intestinal bacteria modulate antiviral immunity and levels of circulating alphaviruses within hours of infection through a bile acid-pDC-IFN signaling axis, which affects viremia, dissemination, and potentially transmission.
Keywords: Clostridium alphavirus bile acid chikungunya interferon microbiome monocyte pathogenesis plasmacytoid dendritic cell