Individual monitoring of immune response in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar following experimental infection with piscine myocarditis virus (PMCV), agent of cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS)

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Abstract

Piscine myocarditis virus (PCMV) is a double-stranded RNA virus structurally similar to the Totiviridae family. PCMV is the causative agent of cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS), a severe cardiac disease that affects farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). A recent study characterized the host immune response in infected salmon through a transcriptome immune profiling, which confirmed a high regulation of immune and anti-viral genes throughout infection with PCMV. Previously we developed a novel model based on repeated non-lethal blood sampling, enabling the individual monitoring of salmonids during an infection. In the present work, we used this model to describe the host immune response in the blood cells of Atlantic salmon after intramuscular infection with PCMV-containing tissue homogenate over a 77-day period. At the final stage heart samples were also collected to verify the PCMV load, the pathological impact of infection and to compare the transcript profiles to blood. The expression level of a range of key immune genes was determined in the blood and heart samples by real-time PCR. Results indicated selected immune genes (mx, cd8α and γip) were up-regulated in the heart tissue of infected animals at the terminal time point, in comparison to the non-infected fish. When analyzing the blood samples over the course of infection, a significant n up-regulation of mx gene was also observed. The time and number of peaks in the kinetics of expression was different between individuals. The PCMV load and CMS pathology was verified by real-time PCR and histopathology, respectively. No pathogen and no pathology could be detected during the course of the experiment except at the terminal stage (viral load by qPCR and pathology by histology). This study emphasizes the value of non-lethal monitoring for evaluating the health status of fish at early stages of infection and in the absence of clinical signs.

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Monte, M., Urquhart, K., Evensen, Ø., Secombes, C. J., & Collet, B. (2019). Individual monitoring of immune response in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar following experimental infection with piscine myocarditis virus (PMCV), agent of cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS). Developmental and Comparative Immunology, 99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dci.2019.103406

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