An immunogold-silver immunohistochemical technique was used to determine the chronological distribution and localization of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) in experimentally infected gnotobiotic pigs. Thirty-two pigs were randomly allocated to infected (n = 24) or control (n = 8) groups. Pigs in infected groups were inoculated at 3 days of age by nasal instillation of PRRSV isolate ATCC VR-2332 (total dose = 10264 TCID50), and control pigs were exposed in the same manner to uninfected cell culture supernatant. Three infected and one control pigs were euthanatized at 12 hours and at 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 14, and 21 days postexposure (DPE). Bronchiolar epithelial cells, arteriolar endothelial cells, monocytes, and interstitial, alveolar, and intravascular macrophages stained for PRRSV antigen at 12 hours postexposure. Staining for PRRSV antigen in endothelial cells, monocytes, and alveolar, interstitial, and intravascular macrophages was most intense and widespread in lung sections from 14 and 21 DPE. In the heart, macrophages in the interstitial and subendocardial spaces and endothelial cells in a few arterioles stained for PRRSV antigen at 14 and 21 DPE. Tonsillar macrophages and mucosal epithelium stained for PRRSV antigen at 12 hours postexposure and sporadically with less intensity in subsequent sampling periods. In the nasal turbinate, PRRSV antigen was identified in macrophages within the mucosal epithelium at 12 hours postexposure and again at 14 and 21 DPE. There was focal staining for PRRSV antigen in the choroid plexus in one pig at 14 DPE. Based on the results of this experiment, the pathogenesis of PRRSV infection in gnotobiotic pigs can be described as initial virus entry through nasal epithelial, tonsillar, and pulmonary macrophages, with viremia occurring by 12 hours postexposure followed by the development of pneumonia, myocarditis, encephalitis, rhinitis, vasculitis, and lymphoid necrosis. Although PRRSV can infect macrophages in heart, tonsil, turbinate, and choroid plexus, pulmonary macrophages are predominantly and consistently infected and are the predominant cells for virus replication in gnotobiotic pigs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank J. Shivers for immunoperoxidase histochemistry and T. Arendt, J. Evenson, D. Gulbranson, and M. Ito for technical assistance. This work was funded by the US Department of Agriculture, National Research Initiative Competitive Grant 92-03683.
- Antibody dependent enhancement
- Gnotobiotic pigs
- Immunogold-silver stain
- Nasal turbinate
- Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus