Immune response against porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus during acute and chronic infection

R. M. Molina, S. H. Cha, W. Chittick, S. Lawson, M. P. Murtaugh, E. A. Nelson, J. Christopher-Hennings, K. J. Yoon, R. Evans, R. R.R. Rowland, J. J. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A significant obstacle to the prevention and control of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is the inability of current diagnostic tests to provide information concerning the stage of PRRSV infection. To explore possible prognostic combinations of cell-mediated and humoral immune responses, 3-week-old pigs (n = 10) were intramuscularly (IM) inoculated with PRRSV isolate VR-2332 and followed for 193 days post-inoculation (DPI). Negative control pigs (n = 10) were IM inoculated with minimum essential medium (MEM). At ∼2-week intervals, blood samples were collected from all animals and tested for the number of interferon (IFN)-γ-secreting peripheral blood mononuclear cells (enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot, Elispot), PRRSV viremia (quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, qRT-PCR), and serum antibodies using PRRSV protein ELISAs (N, GP5 3′, GP5 5′, M 5′, M 3′, GP5-M, and nsp2p) and a commercial PRRSV ELISA (IDEXX Laboratories Inc.). All pigs were viremic by 7 days post-inoculation, with 50% of the pigs resolving viremia by 56 DPI. A PRRSV-specific IFN-γ response was detected at DPI 28, reached a plateau at 42 DPI, declined slightly, and remained relatively stable from 56 to 193 DPI. On the basis of ROC area under the curve (AUC) analysis, the ELISAs that most reliably differentiated PRRSV-inoculated pigs from negative control pigs were the commercial ELISA (AUC = 0.97), the N ELISA (AUC = 0.96), and the M 3′ ELISA (AUC = 0.93). Multivariate analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship between the immune response and the duration and level of viremia. With all antibody assays and Elispot included in the models, the analysis determined that the serum-virus neutralizing antibody response was the best predictor of both level and duration of viremia. It was concluded that humoral antibody responses, particularly the commercial ELISA, N ELISA, and M 3′ ELISA were good predictors of prior exposure to PRRSV, but provided little information regarding the ontogeny of the protective immune response. Likewise, cell-mediated immunity based on the number of IFN-γ-secreting lymphocytes was a poor prognosticator of PRRSV infection status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-292
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 15 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibody
  • Humoral immunity
  • Persistence
  • Serology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • General Veterinary


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