The infectivity and potential immunosuppressive effects of Pseudorabies virus (PRV) was evaluated in swine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Virus progeny titers and viral DNA synthesis at various intervals post-inoculation revealed the replication of PRV in both peripheral blood monocytes and lymphocytes; however, replication in lymphocytes was restricted compared with monocytes. PRV infection resulted in the damage and death of monocytes. Although PRV did not appear to affect the viability of the lymphocytes, PRV infection suppressed lymphocyte functions such as proliferation and interleukin-2 (IL-2) synthesis in response to Concanavalin A. This immunosuppression was dependent upon the multiplicity of infection (MOI) of infectious PRV. UV-inactivated PRV was not immunosuppressive. There was no effect of PRV on natural killer (NK) cell activity. The reduction of lymphocyte proliferation by PRV was not reversible by the addition of supernatant containing porcine IL-2 and non-infected monocytes to the infected cultures. The results from these in vitro studies demonstrate that PRV can infect and cause immunosuppressive effects on swine PBMC. These effects may explain the potential role of PRV in predisposing infected pigs to secondary infection and support the hypothesis that PRV can spread systemically by infected PBMC in blood and lymph.
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These studies were in part supported by USDA Grant CSRS-88-34116. The authors wish to thank Drs. W. Hanyanun and T. Damrongwatanapokin for their help in statistical analyses, and Drs. R.B. Morrison and R. Click for reading the manuscript.