Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 34, Number 3, May-June 2003
Page(s) 249 - 260
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2003) 249-260
Vet. Res. 34 (2003) 249-260
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2003001

Apoptosis in the lungs of pigs infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus and associations with the production of apoptogenic cytokines

Geoffrey Labarque, Steven Van Gucht, Hans Nauwynck, Kristien Van Reeth and Maurice Pensaert

Laboratory of Virology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
(Received 28 July 2002; accepted 14 November 2002)

Apoptosis was studied in the lungs of pigs during an infection with a European strain of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and it was examined if cytokines were involved in the induction of apoptosis. Twenty-two 4- to 5-week-old gnotobiotic pigs were inoculated intranasally with 10 6.0 TCID 50 of the Lelystad virus and euthanised between 1 and 52 days post inoculation (PI). The lungs and broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) cells were assessed both for virus replication and apoptosis; BAL fluids were examined for interleukin (IL)-1, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and IL-10. Double-labellings were conducted to determine the relation between virus replication and apoptosis and to identify the apoptotic cells. Apoptosis occurred in both infected and non-infected cells. The percentages of infected cells, which were apoptotic, ranged between 9 and 39% in the lungs and between 13 and 30% in the BAL cells. The majority of apoptotic cells were non-infected. Non-infected apoptotic cells in the lungs were predominantly monocytes/macrophages, whereas those in the broncho-alveolar spaces were predominantly lymphocytes. The peak of apoptosis in the lungs at 14 days PI was preceded by a peak of IL-1 and IL-10 production at 9 days PI, suggesting a possible role of these cytokines in the induction of apoptosis in non-infected interstitial monocytes/macrophages. However, the latter hypothesis was not confirmed in vitro, since blood monocytes or alveolar macrophages did not undergo apoptosis after treatment with recombinant porcine IL-1 or IL-10.

Key words: pig / lung / porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus / apoptosis / cytokine

Correspondence and reprints: Maurice Pensaert Tel.: (32) 9 264 73 65; fax: (32) (32) 9 264 74 95;

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