Open Access Open Badges Research article

Outcome of experimental porcine circovirus type 1 infections in mid-gestational porcine foetuses

Dipongkor Saha1, David J Lefebvre14, Richard Ducatelle2, Jan V Doorsselaere3 and Hans J Nauwynck1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Virology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Belgium

2 Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Belgium

3 Department of Health Care and Biotechnology, KATHO Catholic University College of South-West Flanders, Belgium

4 Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre, Virology Department, Unit of Vesicular and Exotic Diseases, Brussels, Belgium

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:64  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-64

Published: 21 October 2011



Porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV1) has been described as a non-cytopathic contaminant of the PK-15 cell line. Several experimental infections with PCV1 failed to reproduce disease in pigs. Therefore, PCV1 is generally accepted as non-pathogenic to pigs. To our knowledge, nothing is known about the outcome of PCV1 infections in porcine foetuses. This was examined in the present study.


Nine foetuses from three sows were inoculated at 55 days of gestation: three with 104.3 TCID50 of the PCV1 cell culture strain ATCC-CCL33, three with 104.3 TCID50 of the PCV1 field strain 3384 and three with cell culture medium (mock-inoculated). At 21 days post-inoculation, all 6 PCV1-inoculated and all 3 mock-inoculated foetuses had a normal external appearance. Microscopic lesions characterized by severe haemorrhages were observed in the lungs of two foetuses inoculated with CCL33. High PCV1 titres (up to 104.7 TCID50/g tissue) were found in the lungs of the CCL33-inoculated foetuses. All other organs of the CCL33-inoculated foetuses and all the organs of the 3384-inoculated foetuses were negative (< 101.7 TCID50/g tissue) by virus titration. PCV1-positive cells (up to 121 cells/10 mm2 in CCL33-inoculated foetuses and up to 13 cells/10 mm2 in 3384-inoculated foetuses) were found in the heart, lungs, spleen, liver, thymus and tonsils. PCR and DNA sequencing of Rep recovered CCL33 or 3384 sequences from CCL33- or 3384-inoculated foetuses, respectively.


From this study, it can be concluded that cell culture PCV1 can replicate efficiently and produce pathology in the lungs of porcine foetuses inoculated at 55 days of foetal life.