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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2008 Aug 15;124(3-4):264-73. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2008.03.013. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Pseudorabies virus infection in mink: a host-specific pathogenesis.

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Cátedra de Histología II y Embriología Especial, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Casilda, Argentina.


Pseudorabies virus (PRV) is an alphaherpesvirus that causes a neurological disease in many wild and domestic animals. The neuropathology elicited by PRV is quite consistent regardless of the host with the only exception of mink, in which it is characterized by a vasculopathy rather than by an encephalitis. In this study, we aimed to investigate the underlying pathogenic mechanism(s) of PRV infection in mink by using immunohistochemistry and laser capture microdissection (LCM) on material from naturally and experimentally infected animals. The inflammatory reaction induced by PRV was minimal or absent not only in the nervous system, where we identified a low number of macrophages and a few T lymphocytes, but also in the primary replication site, the oropharyngeal mucosa; however, the number of PRV-infected cells detected by immunohistochemistry was extremely high both in the peripheral mucosa and in the nervous tissue. On the other hand, the vascular pathology included parenchymal hemorrhages of various degrees and, in specific cortical areas of the brain, fibrinoid degeneration of the capillary walls. Detection of viral antigens by immunohistochemistry revealed infection of endothelial cells of capillaries situated both in the oropharyngeal mucosa and in the brain stem; the presence of PRV DNA in vessels was further demonstrated by PCR performed on LCM samples of brain capillaries. These results can be interpreted as supporting the idea that the different pathology of the disease in mink may be the consequence of an increased endotheliotropism of PRV in this species. Infection of the vessel wall may then lead to vascular pathology and impairment in endothelial cell function, resulting in a weak immune response to infection.

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