Pathogenesis of a Thai strain of white spot syndrome virus ... White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) causes disease and mortality in cultured and wild shrimp. A standardized WSSV oral inoculation

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    Vol. 74: 8594, 2007 Published February 28


    White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) has caused seri-ous economic losses to the shrimp farming industry inmany countries in Asia, Latin America and the US (Luet al. 1997, Chou et al. 1998, Wang et al. 1999, Hill2002, Chapman et al. 2004). This has prompted thesearch for control measures and their evaluationthrough experimental inoculation tests. The develop-ment of standardized inoculation tests has beendescribed in previous publications (Escobedo-Bonilla

    et al. 2005, 2006), in which we showed that such in-oculation methods yield reproducible results.

    In order to help formulate new control methodsagainst disease it is important to have a better under-standing of WSSV pathogenesis. At present, aspects ofWSSV pathogenesis are known mainly from studies ofnaturally infected Asian shrimp species. Controversialresults have stirred the debate about the sites of WSSVentry, primary replication and the mode of spread todistant target organs. Early juvenile (0.45 g) Penaeusmonodon inoculated per os first showed WSSV-

    Inter-Research 2007*Corresponding author. Email:

    Pathogenesis of a Thai strain of white spotsyndrome virus (WSSV) in juvenile, specific

    pathogen-free Litopenaeus vannamei

    C. M. Escobedo-Bonilla1, 2, M. Wille1, V. Alday Sanz3, P. Sorgeloos1, M. B. Pensaert2,H. J. Nauwynck2,*

    1Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Rozier 44,9000 Ghent, Belgium

    2Laboratory of Virology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium3INVE Technologies, Hoogveld 93, 9200 Dendermonde, Belgium

    ABSTRACT: White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) causes disease and mortality in cultured and wildshrimp. A standardized WSSV oral inoculation procedure was used in specific pathogen-free (SPF)Litopenaeus vannamei (also called Penaeus vannamei) to determine the primary sites of replication(portal of entry), to analyze the viral spread and to propose the cause of death. Shrimp were inocu-lated orally with a low (101.5 shrimp infectious dose 50% endpoint [SID50]) or a high (104 SID50) dose.Per dose, 6 shrimp were collected at 0, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48 and 60 h post inoculation (hpi). WSSV-infected cells were located in tissues by immunohistochemistry and in hemolymph by indirectimmunofluorescence. Cell-free hemolymph was examined for WSSV DNA using 1-step PCR. Tissuesand cell-free hemolymph were first positive at 18 hpi (low dose) or at 12 hpi (high dose). With the 2doses, primary replication was found in cells of the foregut and gills. The antennal gland was an addi-tional primary replication site at the high dose. WSSV-infected cells were found in the hemolymphstarting from 36 hpi. At 60 hpi, the percentage of WSSV-infected cells was 36 for the epithelial cellsof the foregut and 27 for the epithelial cells of the integument; the number of WSSV-infected cells permm2 was 98 for the gills, 26 for the antennal gland, 78 for the hematopoietic tissue and 49 for the lym-phoid organ. Areas of necrosis were observed in infected tissues starting from 48 hpi (low dose) or36 hpi (high dose). Since the foregut, gills, antennal gland and integument are essential for the main-tenance of shrimp homeostasis, it is likely that WSSV infection leads to death due to their dysfunction

    KEY WORDS: WSSV Specific pathogen-free Litopenaeus vannamei Pathogenesis Oral inoculation Immunohistochemistry Indirect immunofluorescence PCR

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  • Dis Aquat Org 74: 8594, 2007

    infected cells at 16 h post feeding in cells of theforegut, gills, integument and connective tissue of thehepatopancreas as determined by in situ hybridization(ISH) (Chang et al. 1996). However, in another studydone with Marsupenaeus japonicus (also calledPenaeus japonicus) epithelial cells in the midgut weresuggested as the portal of WSSV entry per os (DiLeonardo et al. 2005). Likewise, the debate on the roleof circulating hemocytes in the systemic spread ofWSSV is rejected by some results obtained by ISH (vande Braak et al. 2002), while it is supported by othersusing immunofluorescence and transmission electronmicroscopy (Wang et al. 2002).

    The main target organs of WSSV found in marineshrimp and many other crustaceans inoculated per osinclude the foregut, hindgut, gills, antennal gland, in-tegument, gonads, muscle, nervous tissues, lymphoidorgan, haematopoietic tissues, heart and hemocytes.All these organs are of ectodermal or mesodermal ori-gin (Wongteerasupaya et al. 1995, Durand et al. 1996,Lo et al. 1997, Mohan et al. 1998, Sahul-Hameed et al.1998). At present, no information is available on thepathogenesis of WSSV infection in the Americanshrimp Litopenaeus vannamei (= Penaeus vannamei).

    In the present study, 2 different doses of a ThaiWSSV stock were orally inoculated to juvenile specificpathogen-free (SPF) Litopenaeus vannamei using astandardized oral inoculation procedure previouslydescribed by Escobedo-Bonilla et al. (2006). A lowinoculation dose resulted in a slower rate of diseaseprogression than a high dose. The objectives were(1) to determine the sites of virus replication withemphasis on the portal of entry, (2) to analyze howWSSV spreads from the primary replication sites toother distant target organs, and (3) to search for thecause of death.


    Shrimp and experimental conditions. SPF Litope-naeus vannamei Kona strain were used. Shrimp (14.6 3.3 g mean body weight, n = 102) were acclimatized toa salinity of 15 g l1 and 27C over 4 d at the facilities ofthe Laboratory of Aquaculture and Artemia ReferenceCenter, Ghent University. Afterwards, they were trans-ported to facilities of the Laboratory of Virology, Fac-ulty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, where 2experiments were performed under standard biosafetyconditions. In the first experiment, shrimp (n = 54)were inoculated with a low dose, in the second (n = 48)with a high dose. In each experiment, groups of 6shrimp were kept in 50 l glass aquaria equipped withwater heaters (Visitherm, Aquarium Aystems),mechanical filters (Eheim Classic 2213) and continuous

    aeration. Aquaria were covered with glass and aplastic sheet to prevent virus dispersion by aerosol.

    Virus. A Thai WSSV stock was used. WSSV fromnaturally infected Penaeus monodon was passagedonce into crayfish and grown to high titers in SPFLitopennaeus vannamei. The virus stock was titratedin vivo by intramuscular and oral routes. The virus titerby oral route was 105.6 shrimp infectious dose 50%endpoint (SID50 ml1) as determined by indirectimmunofluorescence (IIF) and 1-step PCR (Escobedo-Bonilla et al. 2005). A low (101.5 SID50) or a high(104.0 SID50) dose was made in phosphate-bufferedsaline (PBS), pH 7.4, volume 50 l.

    Oral inoculation procedure. Viral inoculation wasperformed by placing the shrimp with the ventral sideup. A magnifying glass was used to locate the mouth.A long and flexible pipette tip (Biozym 790 004) wasinserted beneath the labrum and anterior to themandibles. The WSSV inoculum was delivered into thelumen of the foregut.

    Time course. For each experiment, 6 shrimp werecollected at 0, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48 and 60 h post inocu-lation (hpi), respectively. In addition, 6 control shrimpwere inoculated with PBS only and collected at 72 hpi.

    Sampling. Tissue processing: At each samplingtime, the pereons of 3 shrimp were sectioned longitudi-nally, fixed with Davidsons solution for 24 to 48 h, andplaced in 50% ethanol for at least 24 h before paraffinembedding (Bell & Lightner 1988, Lightner 1996). Thepereons of the remaining shrimp were cross-sectionedat 3 different levels and processed for paraffin em-bedding.

    The first cross-section was made at the anterior partof the pereon. Organs of the digestive system (foregut),excretory system (antennal gland), integument andinternal organs (hematopoietic tissue) were located inthis section. The second cross-section comprised thecentral part of the pereon in which organs of the diges-tive (foregut, anterior midgut cecum and hepatopan-creas), respiratory (gills and branchial chamber),excretory (antennal gland) and nervous (ganglia andventral cord) systems, integument and internal organs(lymphoid organ, gonads) were found. The third cross-section comprised the posterior part of the pereonwhere organs of the digestive (posterior part of thehepatopancreas and its junction with the midguttrunk) and respiratory (gills, branchial chamber)systems, integument and internal organs (heart andgonads) were located. Organs of the digestive tract inthe tail were not analyzed.

    Hemolymph collection: Hemolymph from eachshrimp was also collected at each sampling time:shrimp were anaesthetized by placing them on ice.Then they were injected with 200 l of ice-coldAlsevers (AS) buffer, pH 7.0 (Rodrguez et al. 1995), in


  • Escobedo-Bonilla et al.: WSSV pathogenesis in Litopenaeus vannamei

    the anterior part of the pereon using a 24-gauge nee-dle (Terumo Europe), and 400 l of hemolymph mixedwith AS buffer was withdrawn. An aliquot (100 l) wasdiluted 1:10 in PBS and 70 l of the diluted hemolymphwas placed into a cytospin (Cytospin 3, Shandon) fixedto a glass slide. The slides were centrifuged at 300 gfor 4 min and immediately fixed at 20C in 100%methanol for 15 min. The slides were air-dried andstored at 20C until IIF analysis was performed.Another aliquot (100 l) was spun down at 300 g for5 min at 4C to obtain cell-free hemolymph. This frac-tion was used to perform 1-step PCR for the earlydetection of WSSV DNA.

    Analysis of WSSV infection. Immunohistochem-istry (IHC): Paraffin-embedded tissue section