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Vet Microbiol. 2008 May 25;129(1-2):117-30. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2007.11.039. Epub 2007 Dec 14.

Characterisation of immunosuppression in rabbits after infection with myxoma virus.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Veterinary Research Institute, Hudcova 70, 621 00 Brno, Czech Republic.


Myxoma virus (MXV) causes the systemic disease myxomatosis in the European rabbit. Despite many in vitro studies on the function of MXV immunomodulatory proteins and detailed molecular knowledge of virus, little is known about the dynamics of interaction of the virus with the integrated host-immune system during infection. In this study changes in haematological profile, changes in lymphocyte subset distribution and non-specific proliferation activity of lymphocytes from different lymphoid compartments on the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 11th day after experimental infection of rabbits with MXV strain Lausanne was characterised. The relationship between alterations of immune parameters and dynamic of virus dissemination through the body was investigated. Haematological changes included moderate leucopenia with significant lymphopenia, neutrophilia, monocytosis and eosinopenia. A decrease of T cells including CD4+ and CD8+ and increase of CD79alpha+ were observed in draining popliteal lymph node 4 days after virus inoculation. From day 6, comparable changes were seen in collateral popliteal lymph node, spleen and peripheral blood. From day 9, the mentioned lymphocyte subsets tended to reach their original state in all of these lymphocyte compartments except draining popliteal lymph node. In thymus, MXV infection affected mainly CD4+CD8+ double positive thymocytes. On the other hand, proliferation activity of lymphocytes determined by the proliferation assay with plant-derived mitogens was significantly reduced from day 4 or 6 and remained reduced until the end of experiment in all observed lymphoid organs. Presence of MXV in respective lymphoid compartments preceded changes in lymphocyte subset distribution or lymphocyte activity.

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