Establishment of persistent infection with non-cytopathic bovine viral diarrhoea virus in cattle is associated with a failure to induce type 1 interferon

The establishment of persistent infections with non-cytopathic bovine virus diarrhoea virus (ncpBVDV) is crucial for the maintenance of BVDV in cattle populations. Also, super-infection of persistently infected individuals with antigenically homologous cytopathic BVDV (cpBVDV) results in fatal mucosal disease. Persistent infection with ncpBVDV is established by infection of the foetus during the first trimester of pregnancy. It has been shown previously that foetal infection with cpBVDV does not result in persistent infection. Infection of cells in vitro has demonstrated that cpBVDV induces type I interferon (IFN), whereas ncpBVDV fails to induce IFN. In this study we demonstrate that foetal challenge with cpBVDV results in IFN production, whereas ncpBVDV does not. These findings strongly suggest that the ability of ncpBVDV to inhibit the induction of type I IFN has evolved to enable the virus to establish persistent infection in the early foetus.

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