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J Gen Virol. 2011 Oct;92(Pt 10):2437-45. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.033670-0. Epub 2011 Jun 29.

Inoculation of young horses with bovine papillomavirus type 1 virions leads to early infection of PBMCs prior to pseudo-sarcoid formation.

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  • 1Division of Large Animal Internal Medicine, Equine Clinic, Veterinary University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Bovine papillomavirus types 1 and 2 (BPV-1 and BPV-2) are known to induce common equine skin tumours, termed sarcoids. Recently, it was demonstrated that vaccination with BPV-1 virus-like particles (VLPs) is safe and highly immunogenic in horses. To establish a BPV-1 challenge model for evaluation of the protective potential of BPV-1 VLPs, four foals were injected intradermally with infectious BPV-1 virions and with viral genome-based and control inocula, and monitored daily for tumour development. Blood was taken before inoculation and at weekly intervals. BPV-1-specific serum antibodies were detected by a pseudo-virion neutralization assay. Total nucleic acids extracted from tumours, intact skin and PBMCs were tested for the presence of BPV-1 DNA and mRNA using PCR and RT-PCR, respectively. Intralesional E5 oncoprotein expression was determined by immunofluorescence. Pseudo-sarcoids developed exclusively at sites inoculated with virions. Tumours became palpable 11-32 days after virion challenge, reached a size of ≤20 mm in diameter and then resolved in ≤6 months. No neutralizing anti-BPV-1 serum antibodies were detectable pre- or post-challenge. BPV-1 DNA was present in lesions but not in intact skin. In PBMCs, viral DNA was already detectable before lesions were first palpable, in concentrations correlating directly with tumour growth kinetics. PBMCs from two of two foals also harboured E5 mRNA. Immunofluorescence revealed the presence of the E5 protein in tumour fibroblasts, but not in the apparently normal epidermis overlying the lesions. Together with previous findings obtained in horses and cows, these data suggest that papillomavirus infection may include a viraemic phase.

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