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Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) and its Transmission Characteristics: A Study of the New Zealand Designated Pathogen-Free Herd

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Previously a strategy for monitoring of pigs intended for cell transplantation was developed and successfully applied to several representative herds in New Zealand. A designated pathogen-free (DPF) herd has been chosen as a good candidate for xenotransplantation. This herd has previously tested free of infectious agents relevant to xenotransplantation and we present here an in depth study of porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV) transmission. A panel of assays that describes the constraints for the transmission of PERV has been suggested. It includes a) infectivity test in coculture of DPF pig primary cells with both human and pig target cell lines; b) RT activity in supernatant of stimulated primary cells from DPF pigs; c) viral load in donor's blood plasma; d) PERV proviral copy number in DPF pig genome; e) PERV class C prevalence in the herd and its recombination potential. There was no evidence of PERV transmission from DPF pig tissue to either pig or human cells. Additionally, there was no evidence of PERV RNA present in pig blood plasma. PERV copy number differs in individual pigs from as low as 3 copies to 30 copies and the presence of PERV-C varied between animals and breeds. In all DPF pigs tested, a specific locus for PERV-C potentially associated with the recombination of PERV in miniature swine was absent. Presented data on the PERV transmission allows us to classify the DPF potential donors as “null” or noninfectious pigs.

Keywords: Infectivity test; Pig endogenous retrovirus; Pig viruses; Xenotransplantation; “Null” pigs

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2008

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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