1887

Abstract

Despite descriptions of runting-stunting syndrome (RSS) in broiler chickens dating back over 40 years, the aetiology has not yet been described. A novel chicken astrovirus (CkAstV) was isolated in an LMH liver cell line from the intestines of chickens affected with RSS. Clinical RSS is characterized by retarded growth and cystic crypt lesions in the small intestine. In 1-day-old broiler chickens infected with the CkAstV isolate, virus was only detected in the intestinal epithelial cells during the first few days after infection. Notably, the preferred host cells are the crypt epithelial cells following initial replication in the villous epithelial cells, thus implying viral preference for immature intestinal cells. Nevertheless, the CkAstV isolate did not induce remarkable pathological changes, despite the presence of the virus in situ. Serial chicken-to-chicken passages of the virus induced increased virulence, as displayed by decreased weight gain and the presence of cystic lesions in the small intestine reproducing clinical RSS in chickens. The analysis of the full-length genome sequences from the isolated CkAstV and the CkAstV from the bird-to-bird passages showed >99 % similarity. The data obtained in this study suggest that the CkAstV isolate is capable of inducing RSS following serial bird-to-bird passages in broilers and is as an aetiological agent of the disease.

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2018-02-14
2019-10-19
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