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Pathogenic characteristics of three genotype II porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viruses isolated from China

Youjun Shang, Guangxiang Wang, Shuanghui Yin, Hong Tian, Ping Du, Jinyan Wu, Yan Chen, Shunli Yang, Ye Jin, Keshan Zhang, Zengjun Lu and Xiangtao Liu*

Author Affiliations

State Key Laboratory of Veterinary Etiological Biology, National Foot and Mouth Disease Reference Laboratory, Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Xujiaping 1, Chengguan District, Lanzhou 730046, The People’s Republic of China

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:7  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-7

Published: 3 January 2013

Abstract

Background

We examined differences in pathogenicity in pigs from China that had been experimentally infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV).

Methods

We compared pathogenic characteristics of a field isolate (GX-1/2008F), two PRRSV isolates (HN-1/2008, YN-1/2008) propagated in cells, and GX-1/2008F that had been propagated in cells (GX-1/2008). The clinical courses, along with humoral and cell-mediated responses, were monitored for 21 days post-infection (DPI). Animals were sacrificed and tissue samples used for gross pathological, histopathological and ultrastructure examination.

Results

At 2–3 DPI, animals infected with cell-propagated viruses exhibited signs of coughing, anorexia and fever. However their rectal temperature did not exceed 40.5°C. Viremia was detectable as early as 3 DPI in animals infected with HN-1/2008 and YN-1/2008. Animals inoculated with GX-1/2008F displayed clinical signs at 6 DPI; the rectal temperature of two animals in this group exceeded 41.0°C, with viremia first detected at 7 DPI. Seroconversion for all challenged pigs, except those infected with GX-1/2008, was seen as early as 7 DPI. All of these pigs had fully seroconverted by 11 DPI. All animals challenged with GX-1/2008 remained seronegative until the end of the experiment. Innate immunity was inhibited, with levels of IFN-α and IL-1 not significantly different between control and infected animals. The cytokines IFN-γ and IL-6 transiently increased during acute infection. All virus strains caused gross lesions including multifocal interstitial pneumonia and hyperplasia of lymph nodes. Inflammation of the stomach and small intestine was also observed. Lesions in the group infected with GX-1/2008F were more serious than in other groups. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that alveolar macrophages, plasmacytes and lymphocytes had fractured cytomembranes, and hepatocytes had disrupted organelles and swollen mitochondria.

Conclusions

The pathogenicity of the PRRSV field isolate became attenuated when propagated in MARC-145 cells. Tissue tropism of highly pathogenic strains prevailing in China was altered compared with classical PRRSV strains. The observed damage to immune cells and modulation of cytokine production could be mechanisms that PRRSV employs to evade host immune responses.

Keywords:
Immune response; Pathogenic characteristics; Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus