Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Temperature Dependent Viral Tropism (TDVT): Understanding Viral Seasonality and Pathogenicity as Applied to the Avoidance and Treatment of Endemic Viral Respiratory Illnesses

Version 1 : Received: 27 February 2021 / Approved: 1 March 2021 / Online: 1 March 2021 (17:14:19 CET)

How to cite: Shaw Stewart, P.D.; Bach, J. Temperature Dependent Viral Tropism (TDVT): Understanding Viral Seasonality and Pathogenicity as Applied to the Avoidance and Treatment of Endemic Viral Respiratory Illnesses. Preprints 2021, 2021030034 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0034.v1). Shaw Stewart, P.D.; Bach, J. Temperature Dependent Viral Tropism (TDVT): Understanding Viral Seasonality and Pathogenicity as Applied to the Avoidance and Treatment of Endemic Viral Respiratory Illnesses. Preprints 2021, 2021030034 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0034.v1).

Abstract

This review seeks to explain four features of viral respiratory illnesses that have perplexed generations of virologists: (1) the seasonal timing of respiratory illness; (2) the common viruses causing respiratory illness worldwide, including year-round disease in the Tropics; (3) the rapid response of outbreaks to weather, specifically temperature; (4) the rapid arrival and termination of epidemics caused by influenza and other viruses. The inadequacy of the popular explanations of seasonality is discussed, and a simple hypothesis is proposed, called Temperature Dependent Viral Tropism (TDVT), that is compatible with the above features of respiratory illness. TDVT notes that viruses can transmit themselves more effectively if they moderate their pathogenicity (thereby maintaining host mobility) and suggests that endemic respiratory viruses accomplish this by developing thermal sensitivity within a range that supports organ-specific viral tropism within the human body, whereby they replicate most rapidly at temperatures below body temperature. This allows them to confine themselves to the upper respiratory tract and to avoid infecting the lungs, heart, gut etc. Biochemical and tissue-culture studies show that “wild” respiratory viruses show such natural thermal sensitivity. The typical early autumn surge of colds and the existence of respiratory illness in the Tropics year-round at intermediate levels are explained by the tendency for strains to adapt their thermal sensitivity to their local climate and season. The TDVT hypothesis has important practical implications for preventing and treating respiratory illness including Covid-19. TVDT is testable with many options for experiments to increase our understanding of viral seasonality and pathogenicity.

Subject Areas

respiratory illness; pathogenicity; virulence; natural selection; colds; influenza; rhinovirus; weather; climate; Tropics; summer; winter

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