The high PRRS virus diversity has an important impact in diagnosis, immune response (vaccines, protection and immunopathogenesis), emergence of new strains, virulence, cell tropism, and epidemiology, among others.
- ELISA. Antibodies against both PRRSV1 and PRRSV2 can be recognised in the same ELISA, but serological differentiation is also possible using ELISA made for this purpose.
Nevertheless, some authors have already reported that using the most common commercial ELISAs, it is possible to observe individual false negatives when antibodies against some strains are analysed, especially those belonging to PRRSV1 subtypes II-IV.
- PCR. There are few conserved regions in the PRRS virus genome. Obviously, this can complicate the PCR design. Thus, small changes in the genome region used as a target for the PCR may cause a variable percentage of strains not being detected.
During an infection, quasispecies variants might contribute to viral persistence trough the creation of immune escape mutants. We assume that PRRS virus genetic diversity is one of the major causes for the partial or complete lack of protection against re-infections.
Also, it is one of the main reasons behind vaccines not affording universal protection. Specific regions of the genome involved in the protective immunity still remain unknown, so strain cross-protection cannot be predicted by comparing genomic sequences.
In the last ten years, highly pathogenic strains, among them HP-PRRSV in Asia, have emerged. The ever-expanding diversity of the virus ensures that new strains will emerge, being impossible to predict whether these new strains will be more pathogenic or not and their impact on the host’s immunity.
Actually, it has been demonstrated that different isolates replicate with different intensity in different tissues; this fact could have important implications for intensity of replication, virulence and transmission.
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