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J Gen Virol. 2000 Feb;81(Pt 2):497-505.

Changes of leukocyte phenotype and function in the broncho-alveolar lavage fluid of pigs infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus: a role for CD8(+) cells.

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Department of Mammalian Virology, Institute for Animal Science and Health, NL-8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands.


Porcine reproductive and respiratory virus (PRRSV) primarily infects and destroys alveolar macrophages of the pig. The aim of the present study was to characterize the changes of leukocyte populations in the broncho-alveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of PRRSV-infected pigs. Piglets were inoculated intranasally with PRRSV strain LV ter Huurne. On various days post-infection the piglets were sacrificed and the lungs removed, washed semi-quantitatively and analysed by flow cytometry. The total number of recovered BALF cells increased approximately 10 times between day 10 and day 21 of infection and decreased thereafter. The number of small low-autofluorescent cells (SLAC), i.e. lymphocytic and monocytic cells, increased very strongly from day 2 until day 21 of infection; in contrast, the number of large highly autofluorescent cells (LHAC), i.e. mostly macrophages, remained constant until day 14 of infection, increased slightly on day 21 and then decreased. On day 21 of infection in specific-pathogen-free piglets approximately 60% of the SLAC consisted of CD2(+)CD8(+)CD4(-)gammadeltaTCR(-) cells, which were partly CD8(+)CD6(+) and partly CD8(+)CD6(-). These phenotypes correspond to that of cytotoxic T-cells and natural killer cells respectively. From these results we can conclude that during a PRRSV infection the total number of BALF cells increases mainly due to an influx of lymphocytic cells with a cytolytic phenotype.

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