Microvascular endothelial cells constitute potential targets for exogenous microorganisms, in particular for vector-borne pathogens. Their phenotypic and functional variations according to the organs they are coming from provide an explanation of the organ selectivity expressed in vivo by pathogens. In order to make available relevant tools for in vitro studies of infection mechanisms, our aim was to immortalize bovine organospecific endothelial cells but also to assess their permissivity to viral infection. Using transfection with SV40 large T antigen, six bovine microvascular endothelial cell lines from various organs and one macrovascular cell line from an umbilical cord were established. They display their own panel of endothelial progenitor/mature markers, as assessed by flow cytometry and RT-qPCR, as well as the typical angiogenesis capacity. Using both Bluetongue and foot-and-mouth disease viruses, we demonstrate that some cell lines are preferentially infected. In addition, they can be transfected and are able to express viral proteins such as BTV8-NS3. Such microvascular endothelial cell lines bring innovative tools for in vitro studies of infection by viruses or bacteria, allowing for the study of host-pathogen interaction mechanisms with the actual in vivo target cells. They are also suitable for applications linked to microvascularization, such as anti-angiogenic and anti-tumor research, growing fields in veterinary medicine.
Keywords: cattle diseases; endothelium organospecificity; host-pathogen interactions; immortalization; microvasculature; viruses.