Metavirome composition of Brazilian blood donors positive for the routinely tested blood-borne infections

Elsevier, Virus Research, Volume 311, 2 April 2022
Bezerra R.D.S., Ximenez J.P.B., Giovanetti M., Zucherato V.S., Bitencourt H.T., Zimmermann A. et al.

Viral metagenomics is widely applied to characterize emerging viral pathogens but it can also reveal the virome composition in health and disease. The evaluation of the virome in healthy blood donors can provide important knowledge on possible transfusion threats. Currently, there is still a paucity of information regarding the virome of blood donors who test positive for routinely tested blood-borne infections. Such analysis may reveal co-infections which in turn appear to be crucial for transfusion medicine and for patient management. The aim of this study was to evaluate the metavirome in blood donors who tested positive for routinely tested blood-borne infections, the information for which is important for transfusion medicine and blood donor management. For this purpose, we analyzed 18 blood donations obtained from HIV and HBV-infected blood donors from the Brazilian Amazon (Amapa state) and 11 HIV, HBV, HCV, syphilis and Chagas disease - positive blood donations obtained from blood donors sampled in South Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul state). We additionally included a control group of 20 blood donors obtained from Southeast Brazil (State of São Paulo). Samples were assembled in pools and sequenced by the Illumina NovaSeq 6000 platform. To link a given virus with geographic region or type of blood donor, we performed supervised machine learning classification (fingerprint analysis). The virome of both locations was predominantly composed of commensal viruses. However, in HBV-infected blood donors from the Brazilian Amazon, the Human Pegivirus-1 (HPgV-1) reads were prevailing, while in HIV-infected donors from the same location, the torque teno virus (TTV) reads expressive abundance. In blood donors from South Brazil, the most abundant reads were classified as Human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K). Putative emerging viruses like the Human gemykibivirus-2 (HuGkV-2) were exclusively identified in samples from the Brazilian Amazon. The fingerprint analysis demonstrated that the HERV-K, TTV-7, 13, and 15 were statistically important for the infected blood donors, while TTV-5, 12 and 20 were linked to geographic localization. Our study revealed differences in the viral composition among blood donors who tested positive for routinely tested blood-borne infections from two different Brazilian regions and indicated the presence of putative emerging viruses in samples obtained from the Amazon. Together our results show that the presence of specific commensal viruses may be related donor infection status but additional investigations including larger study groups and samples from other Brazilian regions are needed to confirm this hypothesis.