Apoptosis Induced in Vivo during Acute Infection by Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus

J. H. Sur, A. R. Doster, F. A. Osorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


We studied apoptosis caused by porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) in vivo, focusing on the tissues that constitute the main targets for infection: lung and lymphoid tissues. Previous investigators have shown that the PRRSV glycoprotein p25, encoded by PRRSV open reading frame 5, induces apoptosis when expressed in COS-1 cells. Results of studies conducted in our laboratory indicate the simultaneous occurrence of PRRSV-induced alterations of spermatogenesis and apoptotic death of germinal epithelial cells in the testicle. In this study, the goal was to determine whether virus-induced apoptosis is a direct mechanism of cell death caused by PRRSV in infected pigs. Eight 3-week-old pigs were intranasally inoculated with PRRSV 16244B, a highly virulent field strain. Lung, tonsil, bronchial lymph node, spleen, and heart were assessed histologically at 4 and 7 days postinfection. To characterize PRRSV-infected cells and apoptotic cell death, we used immunohistochemical methods for detection of viral antigen, DNA electrophoresis for detection of DNA fragmentation, the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate-fluorescein nick end labeling method for in situ detection of DNA strand breaks, and electron microscopy for ultrastructural morphologic studies. PRRSV infection resulted in widespread apoptosis in the lungs and lymphoid tissues of infected pigs. Virus infection-induced apoptotic cells were more abundant than PRRSV-infected cells in all tissues. DNA laddering was detected in lung and lymphoid tissues. However, double-labeling experiments demonstrated that the majority of apoptotic cells did not colocalize with PRRSV-infected cells. Our findings suggest the presence of an indirect mechanism in the induction of apoptosis for PRRSV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-514
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Apoptosis
  • Double labeling
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Oligonucleosomal laddering
  • Pigs
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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