Equine hepacivirus A (EqHV) belongs to the family Flaviviridae and has been identified as the hepacivirus phylogenetically most closely related to Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Like HCV, EqHV is a hepatotropic virus that has been reported in over fourteen countries from six continents. It has a high prevalence in some populations, in particular the Thoroughbred breed. However, much is still unknown about EqHV, such as its pathogenesis and mode of transmission. The main four receptors used by HCV for viral entry to human hepatocytes are Cluster of Differentiation-81 (CD-81), occludin (OCLN), claudin-1 (CLDN-1) and Scavenger Receptor Class B Member 1 (SCAR-B1). This study investigated the distribution and expression of these entry receptors on equine cells by flow cytometry, immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry. Using a human liver cell line (Huh-7) as a positive control, antibodies against HCV receptors appeared to cross-react with antigens on equine cells. The proportion of fetal horse kidney cells that expressed CD-81, OCLN, and CLDN-1 was 37.2 %, 16.0 %, and 7.0 %, respectively, whereas the equine dermal cells (E.Derms) expressed CD-81 (96.0 %), OCLN (1.2 %) and CLDN-1 (1.7 %). CD-81, OCLN and CLDN-1 were also expressed on E.Derms and Huh7 cells, as detected by immunocytochemistry and on equine liver cells and the allantochorionic region of Thoroughbred placenta by immunohistochemistry. These findings form the basis for further comparative investigation into the entry receptors used by EqHV to infect equine and human cells. Such information may inform future studies on EqHV pathogenesis and mode(s) of transmission.

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