Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) recently emerged as an important cause of reproductive disorders and pneumonia in domestic pigs throughout the world. Acute cytocidal replication of PRRSV in alveolar lung macrophages causes the acute pneumonia; however, it remains largely unresolved whether there may also be a predisposition to longer-term local immunodeficiency in the PRRSV-convalescent lung. We applied various flow cytometric techniques to study the interplay between PRRSV replication and macrophage viability/function in pure cultures of porcine alveolar lung macrophages. Monitored by flow cytometric detection of intracellular PRRSV nucleocapsid protein, acute (24 h post infection) PRRSV replication did not impede the ability of alveolar macrophages to ingest fluorescently labelled Escherichia coli. At 48 h post infection, PRRSV-induced cytotoxicity (quantitated by flow analysis of cell size and membrane integrity) led to 40% reduction in the total number of phagocytozing cells. However, viable/uninfected macrophages in PRRSV-infected cultures exhibited normal phagocytic ability at 48 h, indicating that no soluble phagocytosis-suppressive mediators were induced by PRRSV infection in this system. In short, in our minimal system containing only a single cell type, phagocytosis-suppressive effects of PRRSV infection were detected, that acted at the culture level by reducing the total number of alveolar lung macrophages.
- cell death
- pulmonary alveolar macrophages
- flow cytometry