Thymocyte and peripheral blood T lymphocyte subpopulation changes in piglets following in utero infection with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.

Department of Farm Animal Health and Resource Management, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, 27606, USA.
Virology (Impact Factor: 3.28). 11/2002; 302(2):363-72. DOI: 10.1006/viro.2002.1650
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Piglets infected in utero with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) are born severely immunocompromised. In this article we more closely examine the effects of in utero PRRSV infection on circulating and thymic T cell populations. Numbers of CD4+, CD8+, and dual-positive lymphocytes were quantitated in circulation and in the thymus during the 2 weeks following birth. At birth we found that the number of circulating lymphocytes was suppressed by 60%. Lymphocyte numbers were also suppressed by 42% at day 7, but by day 14 the number of lymphocytes had rebounded and was actually 47% greater than controls. At birth and day 7, a drop in the number of CD4+ cells could partially explain the suppression we observed, while the rebound in total lymphocyte numbers seen at day 14 was due to a nearly fourfold increase in the number of circulating CD8+ cells. As a result, the normal CD4+:CD8+ ratio of between 1.4 and 2.2 for neonatal pigs was reduced to 0.1-0.5. The thymuses of infected piglets were found to be 50% smaller than those of control pigs and were characterized by cortical involution and severe cortical depletion of thymocytes. Analysis of the population of thymocytes revealed that double-positive thymocytes were suppressed to a greater degree than either single positive subpopulation. In addition, we show that the number of thymocytes undergoing apoptosis was increased twofold in piglets infected with PRRSV. Taken together, these results help explain the dramatic immunosuppression observed in neonatal animals infected in utero with PRRSV.

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    ABSTRACT: Cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4) is mainly expressed on CD4(+) T cells, which plays an important role in immune response. The aim of this study was to detect the association between polymorphisms of the CD4 gene and T lymphocyte subpopulations in pigs, and to investigate the effects of genetic variation on the CD4 gene expression level in immune tissues. Five missense mutations in the CD4 gene were identified using DNA pooling sequencing assays, and two main haplotypes (CCTCC and AGCTG) in strong linkage disequilibrium (with frequencies of 50.26% and 46.34%, respectively) were detected in the population of Large White pigs. Our results indicated that the five SNPs and the two haplotypes were significantly associated with the proportions of CD4(-)CD8(-), CD4(+)CD8(+), CD4(+)CD8(-), CD4(+) and CD4(+)/CD8(+) in peripheral blood (p<0.05). Gene expression analysis showed the mRNA level of the CD4 gene in thymus was significantly higher than that in lymph node and spleen (p<0.05). However, no significant difference was observed between animals with CCTCC/CCTCC genotype and animals with AGCTG/AGCTG genotype in the three immune tissues (p>0.05). These results indicate that the CD4 gene may influence T lymphocyte subpopulations and can be considered as a candidate gene affecting immunity in pigs.
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