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Vet Microbiol. 2011 Dec 29;154(1-2):185-90. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.06.016. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Leukogram abnormalities in gnotobiotic pigs infected with porcine circovirus type 2.

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Virus and Prion Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Ames, IA 50010, USA.


Porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) is a single-stranded circular DNA virus that is the causative agent of porcine circovirus associated disease (PCVAD), a disease complex affecting swine around the world. Although this virus is believed to negatively affect the host's immune system, the mechanism by which PCV2 induces disease is not completely understood. This report describes a series of PCV2 experiments using the gnotobiotic pig model in which a relationship was demonstrated between abnormal leukograms and development of clinical disease in PCV2-infected pigs. When compared to control pigs the leukogram was characterized by a decrease in lymphocytes within 14 days post inoculation (dpi) followed by an increase in neutrophils 7-14 days later. No significant changes in the circulating monocyte, basophil, and eosinophil cell populations were detected. The combination of an absolute neutrophilia and lymphopenia produced a neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio that was predictive of clinical disease and was inversely correlated with the presence of neutralizing antibodies. Based on previous reports, the lymphopenia may be attributed to a direct cytolytic effect of the virus and could negatively affect the pig's immune response. The role of the neutrophilia in the pathogenesis of PCVAD in gnotobiotic pigs is unknown.

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