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Vet Pathol. 1998 Mar;35(2):108-16.

Cutaneous and systemic necrotizing vasculitis in swine.

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  • 1Département de Pathologie et de Microbiologie, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, St-Hyacinthe, PQ, Canada.


A systemic vasculitis involving particularly the skin and kidneys has been recently described in swine under the name dermatitis/nephropathy syndrome. Twelve pigs with gross cutaneous lesions typical of this condition were necropsied, and morphologic, immunohistochemical, microbiologic, and epidemiologic characteristics were studied. The pigs were divided into three groups comprising eight pigs with acute lesions, two with chronic lesions, and two with acute lesions kept for sequential skin biopsies. Acute skin lesions consisted of round to irregular, red to purple macules and papules that often coalesced to form large, irregular patches and plaques. With time, the lesions became covered by crusts and faded gradually, sometimes leaving scars. Characteristic distribution included the perineal area of the hindquarters, limbs, dependent parts of the abdomen and thorax, and margins of the ears. In the acute phase of the disease, necrotizing and leucocytoclastic vasculitis of small-caliber blood vessels were observed within the dermis and panniculus and in various extracutaneous locations such as the renal pelvis and synovial membranes. All pigs had macroscopic evidence of pneumonia and generalized lymphadenopathy. Microscopically, they had interstitial pneumonia and perivascular cuffing of mononuclear cells in various tissues including skin. The presence of immunoglobulins and complement was demonstrated by immunofluorescence in and around necrotic vessels of the skin in the early stages. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus (PRRSV) antigens were detected by immunohistochemistry in macrophages located around vessels of the tissues examined (skin and kidneys) in acute and chronic cases. PRRSV RNA was demonstrated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in lung and spleen homogenates from all pigs. The PRRSV was isolated in cell culture from 11 of the pigs. These findings suggest that PRRSV infection may play a role in the pathogenesis of this systemic vascular disease of swine.

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