Malignant rabbit fibroma virus: observations on the culture and histopathologic characteristics of a new virus-induced rabbit tumor. Academic Article uri icon


  • The clinical, histopathologic, and cultural characteristics of a newly isolated poxvirus, malignant rabbit fibroma virus (MV), were investigated. MV was isolated from tumors induced by an uncloned stock of Shope fibroma virus (SFV). MV, SFV, and rabbit myxoma virus were compared. Similarly to myxoma virus, MV grew to higher titer in vitro than did SFV and produced plaques rather than foci on rabbit kidney cell monolayers. Unlike the local, self-limited fibroblastic proliferations observed in SFV recipients, MV and myxoma caused a fulminant clinical syndrome characterized by malignant histology, metastases, and supervening fatal gram-negative infection with Pasteurella multocida. MV induced a large, protuberant local tumor and discrete metastases histologically resembling myxosarcomas. Draining lymph nodes contained metastases and showed diffuse cortical hyperplasia. Kupffer's cells were prominent in the liver, and macrophages were abundant in the splenic sinusoids. The lungs and trachea were spared, but the conjunctiva and nasal mucosa showed squamous metaplasia and atypia, with overlying Pasteurella infection and underlying tumor. Myxoma virus infection produced similar mucosal changes, but both of these as well as the epidermis overlying the myxomas showed cytoplasmic virus inclusions. Neither the skin nor the epithelial surfaces overlying MV-induced tumors nor the tumors themselves contained virus inclusions. Thus the tumor syndrome caused by MV differed from other known rabbit tumors. Endonuclease restriction digests showed that the MV genome resembled, but was distinct from, rabbit myxoma virus. Opportunistic infection associated with MV-induced disseminated tumor may be an experimental model for the infectious complications that often supervene in host-tumor relationships.

author list (cited authors)

  • Strayer, D. S., Cabirac, G., Sell, S., & Leibowitz, J. L.

citation count

  • 45

publication date

  • July 1983