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J Vet Med Sci. 2000 Nov;62(11):1125-31.

Porcine circovirus induces B lymphocyte depletion in pigs with wasting disease syndrome.

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Hokkaido Research Station, National Institute of Animal Health, Toyohira, Sapporo, Japan.


To disclose the mechanism of cellular injury following porcine circovirus (PCV) infection, 12 pigs were examined by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-nick end labeling (TUNEL) method and immunohistochemistry. Histologically, the lymphoid tissues were characterized by marked apoptosis of lymphocytes, lymphocyte depletion, and macrophages and giant cells containing numerous inclusion bodies with or without apoptotic bodies. Immunohistochemically, there were many lysozyme-positive macrophages in the lymphoid follicles, while the number of CD79a-positive B lymphocytes was scanty. Apoptotic cells, which were proved to be TUNEL positive, revealed CD79a positivity. Although detectable mainly in the cytoplasm of macrophages, PCV antigens were found also in the nuclei of macrophages and apoptotic lymphocytes. Ultrastructurally, the presence of PCV virions was confirmed in apoptotic bodies phagocytosed by macrophages. These findings suggested that lymphocyte depletion with apoptotic death of B lymphocytes was caused by PCV, and that some of the inclusion bodies were phagolysosomes derived from the apoptosis. Thus, PCV may trigger the development of wasting disease syndrome by producing an immunocompromised state in pigs.

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