Characterization of the Humoral Immune Response Induced after Infection with Atypical Porcine Pestivirus (APPV)
Atypical porcine pestivirus (APPV) is a widely distributed pathogen causing congenital tremor (CT) in piglets. So far, no data are available regarding the humoral immune response against APPV. In this study, piglets and their sows from an affected herd were tested longitudinally for viral genome and antibodies. APPV genome was detected in the majority of the piglets (14/15) from CT affected litters. Transient infection of gilts was observed. Kinetics of Erns- and E2-specific antibodies and their neutralizing capacity were determined by recently (Erns) and newly (E2) developed antibody ELISAs and virus neutralization assays. Putative maternally derived antibodies (MDA) were detected in most piglets, but displayed only low to moderate neutralizing capacity (ND50 ≤ 112). Horizontal APPV transmission occurred when uninfected and infected piglets were mingled on the flat deck. Horizontally infected piglets were clinically inapparent and showed only transient viremia with subsequently consistently high E2 antibody levels. For piglets from CT affected litters, significantly lower neutralizing antibody titers were observed. Results indicate that E2 represents the main target of neutralizing antibodies. Characterization of the humoral immune response against APPV will help to provide valuable serological diagnosis, to understand the epidemiology of this novel pathogen, and to implement tailored prevention strategies.