Evaluation of food homogenates on cell survival in vitro

Dima Semaan, Liam O'Connor, Linda Scobie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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A critical review on the approaches to assess the infectivity of the Hepatitis E virus (HEV) in food recommended that a cell culture-based method should be developed. Due to the observations that viral loads in food may be low, it is important to maximise the potential for detection of HEV in a food source in order to fully assess infectivity. To do so, would require minimal processing of any target material. In order to proceed with the development of an infectivity culture method that is simple, robust and reproducible, there are a number of points to address; one being to assess if food homogenates are cytotoxic to HEV susceptible target cells. Food matrices previously shown to have detectable HEV nucleic acid were selected for analysis and assessed for their effect on the percentage survival of three cell lines commonly used for infectivity assays. Target cells used were A549, PLC/PRF/5 and HepG2 cells. The results showed that, as expected, various food homogenates have differing effects on cells in vitro. In this study, the most robust cell line over a time period was the A549 cell line in comparison to HepG2, with PLC/PRF/5 cells being the most sensitive. Overall, this data would suggest that FH can be left in contact with A549 cells for a period of up to 72 h to maximise the potential for testing infection. Using food homogenates directly would negate any concerns over losing virus as a result of any additional processing steps.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalFood and Environmental Virology
Early online date18 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2024


  • A549
  • Food homogenates
  • Hepatitis E virus
  • HepG2/C3A
  • PLC/PRF/5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Food Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Virology


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