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Vaccine. 2009 Jun 8;27(28):3788-99. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.03.028. Epub 2009 Apr 3.

Efficacy of a modified live porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) vaccine in pigs naturally exposed to a heterologous European (Italian cluster) field strain: Clinical protection and cell-mediated immunity.

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Department of Animal Health, University of Parma, Via del Taglio, 10, 43126 Parma, Italy.


The purpose of this study was to assess clinical protection in pigs vaccinated with a commercially available attenuated porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) vaccine (Porcilis) PRRS) and then naturally exposed under field conditions to a heterologous (Italian cluster) strain of virulent PRRSV. A total of 30, 4-week-old pigs seronegative for PRRSV were allocated to 1 of 3 groups (IM, ID, and C groups). At 5 weeks of age, pigs of groups IM (n=10 pigs) and ID (n=10 pigs) were vaccinated intramuscularly and intradermally, respectively, with modified live PRRSV-1 vaccine (Porcilis) PRRS). Pigs of group C (n=10 pigs) were kept as non-vaccinated controls. At post-vaccination (PV) days 0, 7, 14, 28, and 45, blood samples were collected for detection of vaccine virus (PCR) and antibody response (ELISA), identification of changes in lymphocyte subpopulations by cytometry, and IFN-gamma PRRSV-specific secreting cells (SC) by ELISpot. At PV day 45, pigs of A, B, and C groups were moved to a site 3 conventional finishing herd with a history of respiratory disease caused by PRRSV and the most common bacteria to be exposed to a natural challenge. The PRRSV field strain, belonging to the Italian cluster of the PRRSV-1, demonstrated a 84% identity with the vaccine virus (DV strain) at ORF5 sequencing. At 0 (exposure day=45 days PV), 4, 7, 11, 14, 19, 21, 28, and 34 days post-exposure (PE) blood samples were collected for detection and titration of PRRSV and antibody, as well as for lymphocyte and IFN-gamma measurement as described above. Throughout the post-exposure period, all pigs were observed daily for clinical signs. The overall clinical signs were reduced by 68 and 72%, respectively in the intramuscularly and intradermally vaccinated pigs compared to controls. Respiratory signs were reduced by 72 and 80%, respectively in the IM and ID groups. Clinical protection was associated with marked activation of cell-mediated immune response. The highest levels of specific IFN-gamma production at 21-34 days PE were concomitant and associated to changes in natural killer (NK) cells, gamma/delta T, and cytotoxic T lymphocytes in the blood. In our field study, evidences of EU attenuated vaccine-induced clinical protection against natural exposure to a genetically diverse (84% homology) PRRSV-1 isolate (Italian cluster) was demonstrated by the statistically significant reduction in clinical signs in terms of incidence, duration and severity and by a more efficient cell-mediated immune response in the vaccinated pigs as compared to the unvaccinated controls.

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