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Vet Pathol. 2001 Jan;38(1):31-42.

Activation of the immune system is the pivotal event in the production of wasting disease in pigs infected with porcine circovirus-2 (PCV-2).

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Department of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA.


Porcine circovirus (PCV)-2, a newly described single-stranded circular DNA virus pathogen of swine is the cause of postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS). In gnotobiotic piglets, PCV-2 infection alone produces asymptomatic infection without evidence of overt PMWS. Gnotobiotic piglets infected with PCV-2 were injected with keyhole limpet hemocyanin in incomplete Freund's adjuvant (KLH/ICFA), and the effects on virus production and development of PMWS were determined. In the first experiment, piglets were injected subcutaneously on the left hip and shoulder, and viral burden was assessed in regional lymph nodes draining the injection sites and in contralateral lymph nodes 13-14 days after infection. Immune activation increased the number of virus antigen-positive cells in draining lymph nodes and increased the amount of infectious virus recovered by 1-4 log10. In a second experiment, the effects of injections of KLH/ICFA with or without concurrent stimulation of peritoneal macrophages by intraperitoneal injections of thioglycollate broth on induction of PMWS was assessed. All immunized piglets developed moderate to severe PMWS, whereas none of the piglets infected with PCV-2 alone developed PMWS. In PMWS-affected piglets, extensive replication of PCV-2 was documented by both immunocytochemistry and quantitative viral titrations. Thus, immune activation is a key component of the pathogenesis of PCV-2-associated PMWS in swine.

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