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J Gen Virol. 2007 Aug;88(Pt 8):2155-61.

Bovine papillomavirus load and mRNA expression, cell proliferation and p53 expression in four clinical types of equine sarcoid.

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Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Surgery and Anaesthesiology of Domestic Animals, Salisburylaan 133, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


Equine sarcoids, the most common skin tumours in horses, are induced by bovine papillomavirus (BPV). Their clinical appearance varies from small stable patches to aggressively growing masses. Differences in BPV load and mRNA expression and Ki67 and p53 immunostaining among four clinical types (fibroblastic, occult, nodular and verrucous sarcoids) were evaluated to test the hypothesis that the clinical behaviour of equine sarcoids correlates with BPV activity. Viral load and expression of the BPV E2, E5, E6 and E7 genes were determined using quantitative real-time PCR. The proliferative fraction (PF) of the tumours was determined by Ki67 immunostaining and expression of p53 was analysed by immunohistochemistry. Nodular sarcoids showed a significantly higher viral load than the other types. A significant overall difference among the four types was observed for E2, E5, E6 and E7 mRNA expression. Nodular sarcoids showed the highest expression level for each BPV gene examined, followed by verrucous, fibroblastic and occult tumours. Viral DNA and mRNA outcomes correlated with each other, indicating a similar transcription pattern in each type of sarcoid. The PF was significantly higher in the superficial layers of verrucous and fibroblastic sarcoids compared with occult and nodular types. No significant difference was observed for the PF in the deep layers and for p53 expression. These results clearly demonstrate the omnipresence and active transcription of BPV in equine sarcoids. However, the hypothesis that the clinical behaviour of an equine sarcoid can be explained on the basis of differences in BPV activity could not be demonstrated.

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