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Vet Pathol. 1997 Nov;34(6):557-67.

Pathobiology of H5N2 Mexican avian influenza virus infections of chickens.

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US Department of Agriculture, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Athens, GA, USA.


To determine the association between specific structural changes in the hemagglutinin gene and pathogenicity of avian influenza viruses (AIVs), groups of 4-week-old White Plymouth Rock chickens were inoculated intravenously or intranasally with AIVs of varying pathogenicities isolated from chickens in central Mexico during 1994-1995. Mildly pathogenic (MP) viruses had a common hemagglutinin-connecting peptide sequence of Pro-Gln-Arg-Glu-Thr-Arg decreases Gly and had restricted capability for replication and production of lesions in tissues. The principle targets for virus replication or lesion production were the lungs, lymphoid organs, and visceral organs containing epithelial cells, such as kidney and pancreas. Death was associated with respiratory and/or renal failure. By contrast, highly pathogenic (HP) AIVs had one substitution and the addition of two basic amino acids in the hemagglutinin connecting peptide, for a sequence of Pro-Gln-Arg-Lys-Arg-Lys-Thr-Arg decreases Gly. The HP AIVs were pantropic in virus replication and lesion production ability. However, the most severe histologic lesions were produced in the brain, heart, adrenal glands, and pancreas, and failure of multiple critical organs was responsible for disease pathogenesis and death. No differences in lesion distribution patterns or in sites of AIV replication were evident to explain the variation in mortality rates for different HP AIVs, but HP AIVs that produced the highest mortality rates had more severe necrosis in heart and pancreas. The ability of individual HP AIVs to produce low or high mortality rates could not be explained by changes in sequence of the hemagglutinin-connecting peptide alone, but probably required the addition of other undetermined genomic changes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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