One hundred forty-six 5-week-old cesarean-derived, colostrum-deprived (CDCD) pigs were inoculated intranasally with 1 of 9 US porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) isolates. Differences were found in severity of clinical respiratory disease, rectal temperatures (P ≤ 0.001), gross lung lesions (P ≤ 0.001), and microscopic lung lesions (P ≤ 0.05). Gross lung lesions were generally most severe 10 days postinoculation and were distributed primarily in the cranial, middle, and accessory lobes and ventromedial portion of the caudal lung lobes. Mean gross lung lesion scores estimating the percentage of lung affected by pneumonia at 10 days postinoculation ranged from 16.7% ± 2.8% (x̄ ± SEM, n = 10) for isolate ISU-51 to 62.4% ± 5.7% (n = 10) for isolate ISU-28. Microscopic lung lesions were characterized by hyperplastic and hypertrophied type 2 pneumocytes, septal infiltration by mononuclear cells, and accumulation of necrotic alveolar exudate. Lymph node follicular hyperplasia and focal necrosis was seen with all 9 isolates. This CDCD pig model was useful for demonstration of significant differences in pathogenicity among US PRRSV isolates. This difference in pathogenicity may help explain the variation in severity of clinical disease observed in field outbreaks of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and should provide for meaningful comparison of PRRSV genotypes.
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