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On 01.07.2022, the Institute of Virology received the appointment as a consiliary laboratory for the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV) of the German Veterinary Medical Society (DVG).

Consiliary laboratories are primarily responsible for the external quality assurance of laboratory diagnostics of animal pathogens, zoonotic and food-borne infectious agents that are not subject to notification or reporting requirements. In this context, they act in an advisory capacity and conduct scientific studies and interlaboratory tests to maintain a high quality standard in pathogen diagnostics. Consiliary laboratories have expertise and reputation in the diagnostics of the designated pathogen.

Ongoing research projects

The porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is currently the most economically important pathogen in pig farming. At the Institute of Virology, research is being conducted on (i) host cell tropism of animal viruses, (ii) pathogenesis of viral infections, (iii) genotyping and sequencing of virus isolates, and (iv) development of new diagnostics (NGS).

One area of research includes work on deoxynivalenol (DON), a mycotoxin found in the feed of pigs. Biologically, DON has been shown to have toxic and immunomodulatory properties. The immunomodulatory effect of DON on the success of vaccinations in pigs has not yet been sufficiently investigated. The topic of the paper 'Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV): diagnostic and pathogenesis studies under the influence of deoxynivalenol (DON)' is to characterise the influence of DON on the immune response after PRRSV vaccination or infection.

Another field involves PRRSV-host interactions. In 2016, project-related start-up funding was obtained from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine on the topic of 'Typing of porcine macrophages for infectious diseases in the respiratory system' as part of the faculty's research focus 'Integrated Lung and Airway Research [ILAF]'. In this project, interdisciplinary work is being carried out on primary porcine lung macrophages to gain a better understanding of the differentiation levels and expression patterns of surface antigens of these cells, which are the primary target cells of PRRSV in the lungs of pigs.

In 2017, the Institute of Virology received a grant from the Dres.-Jutta-und-Georg-Bruns-Stiftung für innovative Veterinärmedizin (Dres.-Jutta-und-Georg-Bruns Foundation for Innovative Veterinary Medicine) for the topic 'Establishment and validation of a serum neutralisation test for the detection of a protective immune response against the PRRS virus in pigs'. A major problem in the control of PRRSV is the fact that an antibody response that neutralises the virus and is thus protective only develops late after infection or vaccination. The presence of neutralising antibodies can be measured in cell culture using a serum neutralisation test (SNT). However, there are no well-validated SNT protocols for PRRSV. This project therefore aims to establish a robust SNT for PRRSV and validate it using diagnostic samples (field sera).

Little is known about how infection with PRRSV affects host cell biology in infected cells and how cellular stress responses are modulated. By means of molecular biological and biochemical methods, investigations of such aspects are first illuminated in a cell line susceptible to the virus (MARC-145) and, in perspective, in primary cells of the pig. In future, these investigations will be carried out in cooperation with the Institute of Veterinary Physiology and Chemistry (Prof. Dr. Frank Edlich) at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig.

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