Immunological responses of swine to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus infection

Michael P Murtaugh, Zhengguo Xiao, Federico Zuckermann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

253 Scopus citations


The immunology of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRS) begins with an initial encounter of PRRSV with the pig. Regardless of the route of entry of PRRSV - via inhalation, intramuscular vaccination, insemination, or other routes - productive infection occurs predominately in alveolar macrophages of the lung. Thus, innate responses of the lung and the alveolar macrophage comprise the initial defense against PRRSV. The virus appears not to elicit innate interferon and cytokine responses characteristic of other strongly immunogenic viral pathogens, and its effects are consistent with induction of a weak adaptive immune response. Humoral and cell-mediated immunity is induced in due course, and results in clearance of virus from the circulation but not from lymphoid tissues, where the infection becomes persistent. Subsequent reexposure to PRRSV elicits an anamnestic response that is partially to completely protective. Within this unconventional picture of anti-PRRSV immunity lie a variety of unresolved issues, including the nature of protective immunity within individual pigs and among pigs in commercial populations, the efficacy of protective immunity against genetically different PRRSV isolates, the effects of developmental age, sex, genetics, and other host factors on the immune response to PRRSV, and the possible suppression of host immunity to other pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-547
Number of pages15
JournalViral Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Antibody
  • Cell-mediated immunity
  • Interferon
  • PRRS
  • Persistence
  • Pig
  • Porcine
  • Veterinary immunology


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