Coinfection of specific-pathogen-free chickens with Marek's disease virus (MDV) and chicken infectious anemia virus: effect of MDV pathotype.
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Both Marek's disease virus (MDV) and chicken infectious anemia virus (CIAV) infections are prevalent in chickens throughout the world. In the past decade, MDV strains with increased virulence (very virulent plus MDV pathotype [vv+MDV]) have been isolated. The purpose of this experiment was to determine the effects of coinfection of chickens with CIAV and a vv+MDV isolate. Specific-pathogen-free chickens were inoculated at 1 day posthatch with RB1B (very virulent MDV pathotype [vvMDV]) only, 584A (vv+MDV) only, CIAV only, RB1B + CIAV, 584A + CIAV, or nothing. Samples of spleen, thymus, and bursa of Fabricius were collected at 4, 7, 10, and 13 days postinoculation (DPI). Thymic and bursal atrophy at 13 DPI and final mortality at 30 DPI were significantly greater in chickens inoculated with 584A with or without added CIAV, or with RB1B plus CIAV, compared with birds inoculated with RB1B alone. Both amounts of virus reisolated and levels of virus detected by quantitative-competitive polymerase chain reaction were greater at 4 DPI in 584A inoculates compared with RB1B inoculates. To monitor the early cytolytic infection, northern analysis was done with a probe for the MDV immediate early gene ICP4 (infected cell protein 4). In the absence of CIAV, ICP4 expression was more apparent in chickens inoculated with 584A than in those inoculated with RB1B. CIAV coinfection increased ICP4 expression in the spleens of chickens infected with RB1B. These results indicated that inoculation of chickens with the 584A isolate caused a more robust early cytolytic infection compared with inoculation with RB1B alone and support the classification of 584A as a vv+MDV strain. Coinfection with CIAV exacerbated vvMDV strain RB1B infection. The extent of this exacerbation was less evident when birds were coinfected with 584A and CIAV.