Cross-Reactivity of Human, Wild Boar, and Farm Animal Sera from Pre- and Post-Pandemic Periods with Alpha- and Βeta-Coronaviruses (CoV), including SARS-CoV-2

Marcel Hulst*, Arie Kant, José Harders-Westerveen, Markus Hoffmann, Yajing Xie, Charlotte Laheij, Jean-Luc Murk, Wim H.M. Van der Poel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Panels of pre- and post-pandemic farm animals, wild boar and human sera, including human sera able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, were tested in serological tests to determine their cross-reactivity with β- and α-CoV originating from farm animals. Sera were tested in neutralization assays with high ascending concentrations (up to 1 × 104 TCID50 units/well) of β-CoV Bovine coronavirus (BCV), SARS-CoV-2, and porcine α-CoV-transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV). In addition, sera were tested for immunostaining of cells infected with β-CoV porcine hemagglutinating encephalomyelitis (PHEV). Testing revealed a significantly higher percentage of BCV neutralization (78%) for sera of humans that had experienced a SARS-CoV-2 infection (SARS-CoV-2 convalescent sera) than was observed for human pre-pandemic sera (37%). Also, 46% of these human SARS-CoV-2 convalescent sera neutralized the highest concentration of BCV (5 × 103 TCID50/well) tested, whereas only 9.6% of the pre-pandemic sera did. Largely similar percentages were observed for staining of PHEV-infected cells by these panels of human sera. Furthermore, post-pandemic sera collected from wild boars living near a densely populated area in The Netherlands also showed a higher percentage (43%) and stronger BCV neutralization than was observed for pre-pandemic sera from this area (21%) and for pre- (28%) and post-pandemic (20%) sera collected from wild boars living in a nature reserve park with limited access for the public. High percentages of BCV neutralization were observed for pre- and post-pandemic sera of cows (100%), pigs (up to 45%), sheep (36%) and rabbits (60%). However, this cross-neutralization was restricted to sera collected from specific herds or farms. TGEV was neutralized only by sera of pigs (68%) and a few wild boar sera (4.6%). None of the BCV and PHEV cross-reacting human pre-pandemic, wild boar and farm animal sera effectively neutralized SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Preexisting antibodies in human sera effectively neutralized the animal β-CoV BCV in vitro. This cross-neutralization was boosted after humans had experienced a SARS-CoV-2 infection, indicating that SARS-CoV-2 activated a “memory” antibody response against structurally related epitopes expressed on the surface of a broad range of heterologous CoV, including β-CoV isolated from farm animals. Further research is needed to elucidate if a symptomless infection or environmental exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or another β-CoV also triggers such a “memory” antibody response in wild boars and other free-living animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • cross-neutralization
  • farm animals
  • humans
  • pre- and post-pandemic sera
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • wild boars
  • α- and β-coronaviruses


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