Previous studies have indicated that porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) can be identified in and transmitted through boar semen. However, the site(s) of replication indicating the origin of PRRSV in semen has not been identified. To determine how PRRSV enters boar semen, five vasectomized and two nonvasectomized PRRSV-seronegative boars were intranasally inoculated with PRRSV isolate VR-2332. Semen was collected three times weekly from each boar and separated into cellular and cell-free (seminal plasma) fractions. Both fractions were evaluated by reverse transcriptase nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nPCR) for the presence of PRRSV RNA. Viremia and serostatus were evaluated once weekly, and boars were euthanatized 21 days postinoculation (DPI). Tissues were collected and evaluated by RT-nPCR, virus isolation (VI), and immunohistochemistry to identify PRRSV RNA, infectious virus, or viral antigen, respectively. PRRSV RNA was identified in semen from all vasectomized and nonvasectomized boars and was most consistently found in the cell fraction, within cells identified with a macrophage marker. Viral replication as determined by VI was predominately found within lymphoid tissue. However, PRRSV RNA was widely disseminated throughout many tissues, including the reproductive tract at 21 DPI. These results indicate that PRRSV can enter semen independent of testicular or epididymal tissues, and the source of PRRSV in semen is virus-infected monocytes/macrophages or non-cell-associated virus in serum. PRRSV-infected macrophages in semen may result from infection of local tissue macrophages or may originate from PRRSV-infected circulating monocytes or macrophages.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Proposal (USDA-NRICGP) 9203683, USDA NRICGP Seed Grant 9404056, and a South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station Hatch Grant. This article is no. 3039 of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.