Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) antigens were detected by a streptavidin-biotin complex technique in tissues of 3-week-old colostrum-deprived pigs that had been inoculated intranasally with PRRSV and had developed moderate respiratory disease. Moderate, multifocal, tan-colored consolidation of the lungs and severe enlargement of the lymph nodes were noted at necropsy. Severe interstitial pneumonia characterized by type 2 pneumocyte proliferation, septal infiltration with mononuclear cells, and accumulation of macrophages and necrotic cells in alveolar spaces was observed at 4 and 9 days postinoculation. Moderate multifocal perivascular lymphohistiocytic myocarditis was observed at 9 days postinoculation. Marked lymphoid follicular hyperplasia and follicular necrosis in the tonsil, spleen, and lymph nodes was observed. A monoclonal antibody that recognizes a conserved epitope of PRRSV nucleocapsid protein was used as primary antibody for immunohistochemistry. Antigen was readily detected in alveolar macrophages in the lung and in endothelial cells and macrophages in the heart. Macrophages and cells resembling dendritic cells in tonsil, lymph nodes, thymus, and spleen also stained intensely positive for viral antigen. PRRSV appears to replicate primarily within macrophages in the respiratory and lymphoid systems of the pig.
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