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Virology. 2002 Jun 20;298(1):39-44.

Growth characteristics of a highly virulent, a moderately virulent, and an avirulent strain of equine arteritis virus in primary equine endothelial cells are predictive of their virulence to horses.

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Bernard and Gloria Salick Equine Viral Disease Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Equine viral arteritis (EVA) is an endotheliotropic viral disease of horses caused by equine arteritis virus (EAV). Although there is only one serotype of EAV, there is marked variation in the virulence of different strains of the virus. The replication and cytopathogenicity of three well-characterized strains of EAV of different virulence to horses were compared in rabbit kidney (RK-13) and primary equine pulmonary artery endothelial cells (ECs). Viral protein expression, plaque size, and cytopathogenicity of all three viruses were similar in RK-13 cells, whereas two virulent strains of EAV were readily distinguished from an avirulent strain by their plaque morphology and cytopathogenicity in primary equine ECs. Furthermore, EAV nucleocapsid protein was detected by flow cytometric analysis significantly later in ECs infected with the avirulent than those infected with the virulent strains of EAV. Primary equine ECs provide a convenient and relevant model for in vitro characterization of the pathogenesis of EVA and the virulence determinants of EAV.

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