Pathogenesis of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus Infection in Gnotobiotic Pigs

K. D. Rossow, J. E. Collins, S. M. Goyal, E. A. Nelson, J. Christopher-Hennings, D. A. Benfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


The pathogenesis of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) was determined in gnotobiotic pigs by studying the sequential development of microscopic lesions and sites of virus distribution and replication. Thirty-two pigs (three pigs/infected group and one pig/control group) were inoculated by nasal instillation of either PRRSV isolate ATCC VR-2332 (total dose 102,6 TCID50) or uninfected cell culture supernatant. Infected and control pigs were euthanized at 12 hours, and 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 14, and 21 days postexposure (PE). Gnotobiotic pigs experimentally infected with PRRSV were viremic by 12 hours PE and subsequently developed pneumonia, lymphadenopathy, vasculitis, myocarditis, and encephalitis. Lung lesions developed by day 3 PE, persisted through day 21 PE and were characterized by alveolar septa thickened by macrophages, alveolar proteinaceous and karyorrhectic debris, alveolar syncytial cells, and multifocal type II pneumocyte hypertrophy. Lymph node lesions varied in distribution and severity and were characterized by germinal center hypertrophy and hyperplasia, lymphocyte necrosis, multiple cystic spaces, and polykaryocytes within the cystic spaces. Heart lesions were a late feature of infection and all infected pigs had heart lesions on day 21 PE characterized by subendocardial, myocardial, and perivascular foci of lymphocytes. Vasculitis also varied in distribution and severity and affected all sizes of vessels. Results of this experiment indicate that PRRSV is a multisystem disease characterized initially by viremia with subsequent virus distribution and replication in multiple organs causing interstitial pneumonia, vasculitis, lymphadenopathy, myocarditis, and encephalitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-373
Number of pages13
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Michelle Mero Riedel for her expertise and suggestions in graphic arts, Jan Shivers for lymph node immunohistochemistry, and especially Dr. John Thomson, Dr. David Zeman, Pam Leslie-Steen, Connie Gates, and the staff of the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory for assistance during the use of gnotobiotic facilities. This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Research Initiative Competitive Grant 92-03683.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Gnotobiotic pigs
  • lymph node
  • myocarditis
  • pneumonia
  • polykaryocytes
  • porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus
  • vasculitis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Pathogenesis of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus Infection in Gnotobiotic Pigs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this