In a case-control study, the role of porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2) and putative co-factors in the development of porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome (PDNS) were investigated. Pigs with and without PDNS were examined for macroscopic lesions and histopathology. In addition, organs and tissues were collected at necropsy and examined for the presence of fibrinous deposits (immune complexes), CD8+ cells, and for the presence of bacterial and viral infections. Results from PDNS cases were compared with those of three control groups comprising pigs without clinical signs of PDNS and selected from; (1) the same compartment as PDNS cases, (2) another compartment but in the same PDNS herd, and (3) a control herd without any history of PDNS or post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome. Macroscopic and histopathological lesions found in PDNS cases were comparable to those previously documented for PDNS e.g. skin lesions and renal lesions representing glomerulonephritis associated with fibrinous deposits and to a lesser extent with interstitial nephritis. PCV2 was detected by PCR in 100% of the PDNS cases, mainly in lymph nodes and tonsils, and in 63% of the control pigs from PDNS free herds. Virus isolation did not reveal infectious PCV2 in all cases. In PDNS affected pigs the PCV2 serum antibody titres were consistently extremely high and the mean PCV2 antibody titre in PDNS pigs was significantly higher than the mean PCV2 antibody titres in pigs from all 3 control groups. Immunohistochemical investigation of kidneys from PDNS affected pigs revealed an increased accumulation of IgG1 + IgG2 and IgM, the complement factors C1q and C3, but also an increase of CD8+ cells. The amounts of IgA and the complement factor C5 in kidneys of PDNS pigs were only slightly increased as compared to control pigs. This study demonstrates that PCV2 infections can result in extremely high PCV2 antibody titres and that PCV2 is a candidate as primary agent in the development of PDNS. The causative physiological basis for PDNS may be the excessive levels of PCV2 antibodies.
- respiratory syndrome virus