Passive Transfer of Virus-Specific Antibodies Confers Protection against Reproductive Failure Induced by a Virulent Strain of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus and Establishes Sterilizing Immunity
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Immune mechanisms mediating protective immunity against porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) are not well understood. The PRRSV-specific humoral immune response has been dismissed as being ineffective and perhaps deleterious for the host. The function of PRRSV antibodies in protective immunity against infection with a highly abortifacient strain of this virus was examined by passive transfer experiments in pregnant swine. All of a group of pregnant gilts (n = 6) that received PRRSV immunoglobulin (Ig) from PRRSV-convalescent, hyperimmune animals were fully protected from reproductive failure as judged by 95% viability of offspring at weaning (15 days of age). On the other hand, the totality of animals in a matched control group (n = 6) receiving anti-pseudorabies virus (PRV) Ig exhibited marked reproductive failure with 4% survival at weaning. Besides protecting the pregnant females from clinical reproductive disease, the passive transfer of PRRSV Ig prevented the challenge virus from infecting the dams and precluded its vertical transmission, as evidenced by the complete absence of infectious PRRSV from the tissues of the dams and lack of infection in their offspring. In summary, these results indicate that PRRSV-Igs are capable of conferring protective immunity against PRRSV and furthermore that these Igs can provide sterilizing immunity in vivo.