Identification of factors associated with virus level in tonsils of pigs experimentally infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus

Andrew S. Hess, Joan K. Lunney, Samuel Abrams, Igseo Choi, Ben R. Trible, Melanie K. Hess, Raymond R.R. Rowland, Graham S. Plastow, Jack C.M. Dekkers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is one of the most important global swine diseases from both an economic and animal welfare standpoint. PRRS has plagued the US swine industry for over 25 yr, and containment of PRRS virus (PRRSV) has been unsuccessful to date. The primary phase of PRRS, tracked by serum viremia, typically clears between 21 and 42 d postinfection (dpi) but tonsils are a main site of PRRSV persistence and PRRSV can be detected in tonsils in excess of 150 dpi. Measuring tonsil virus (TV) levels at late stages of infection (6 to 7 wk postinfection) can be used to assess tonsil persistence, as levels of virus in tonsil at this time likely influence how long the virus will remain in the tissue. TV levels were measured on pigs experimentally infected with either the NVSL-97-7895 (NVSL; n = 524) or KS-2006-72109 (KS06; n = 328) PRRSV type 2 isolates across five trials. The objectives of this study were to (i) estimate the heritability of TV levels at 35 or 42 dpi; (ii) identify factors the affect TV level, including serum viremia; (iii) identify genomic regions associated with TV level; and (iv) compare results for the two PRRSV isolates. TV level was lowly heritable for both isolates (NVSL: 0.05 ± 0.06; KS06: 0.11 ± 0.10). Level of TV was phenotypically associated with traits related to viral clearance from serum: pigs with low TV levels had an earlier and faster rate of maximal serum viral clearance, lower total serum viral load, and lower viremia level at 35 or 42 dpi. Although no genomic regions with major effects on TV level were identified, several showed some association (>0.1% of total genetic variance in the NVSL-infected dataset, the KS06-infected dataset, and the combined dataset). These regions contained the genes CCL1, CCL2, CCL8, HS3ST3B1, GALNT10, TCF7, C1QA/B/C, HPSE, G0S2, and CD34, which are involved in viral infiltration or replication, immune cell migration, and viral clearance from tissue. Results were similar between the two PRRSV isolates. In conclusion, selection for viral clearance traits in serum may reduce PRRSV persistence in the tonsil across PRRSV isolates. However, genetic correlations need to be estimated to determine whether this will be successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-547
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • genetics
  • pigs
  • porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome
  • tonsils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Identification of factors associated with virus level in tonsils of pigs experimentally infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this