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J Gen Virol. 2003 Jan;84(Pt 1):93-7.

Absence of viral antigens on the surface of equine herpesvirus-1-infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells: a strategy to avoid complement-mediated lysis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Virology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) may cause abortion in vaccination- and infection-immune horses. EHV-1-infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) play an important role in virus immune evasion. The mechanisms by which infected PBMCs can avoid destruction by EHV-1-specific antibody and equine complement were examined. The majority of EHV-1-infected PBMCs (68.6 %) lacked surface expression of viral antigens and these cells were not susceptible to complement-mediated lysis. In infected PBMCs with surface expression of viral antigens, 63 % showed focal surface expression, whereas 37 % showed general surface expression. General surface expression rendered infected PBMCs susceptible to lysis by antibody and complement (from 5.4 to 31.2 % lysed cells depending on the concentration of antibody and complement). Infected PBMCs with focal surface expression showed significant lysis only in the presence of high concentrations of antibody and complement. Thus, the absence of surface expression protects infected PBMCs against complement-mediated lysis.

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