Several emerging pestiviruses have been reported lately, some of which have proved to cause disease. Recently, a new ovine pestivirus (OVPV), isolated from aborted lambs, with high genetic identity to classical swine fever virus (CSFV), has proved to induce reproductive disorders in pregnant ewes. OVPV also generated strong serological and molecular cross-reaction with CSFV. To assess the capacity of OVPV to infect swine, twelve piglets were infected either by intranasal or intramuscular route. Daily clinical evaluation and weekly samplings were performed to determine pathogenicity, viral replication and excretion and induction of immune response. Five weeks later, two pigs from each group were euthanized and tissue samples were collected to study viral replication and distribution. OVPV generated only mild clinical signs in the piglets, including wasting and polyarthritis. The virus was able to replicate, as shown by the RNA levels found in sera and swabs and persisted in tonsil for at least 5 weeks. Viral replication activated the innate and adaptive immunity, evidenced by the induction of interferon-alpha levels early after infection and cross-neutralizing antibodies against CSFV, including humoural response against CSFV E2 and Erns glycoproteins. Close antigenic relation between OVPV and CSFV genotype 2.3 was detected. To determine the OVPV protection against CSFV, the OVPV-infected pigs were challenged with a highly virulent strain. Strong clinical, virological and immunological protection was generated in the OVPV-infected pigs, in direct contrast with the infection control group. Our findings show, for the first time, the OVPV capacity to infect swine, activate immunity, and the robust protection conferred against CSFV. In addition, their genetic and antigenic similarities, the close relationship between both viruses, suggest their possible coevolution as two branches stemming from a shared origin at the same time in two different hosts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)