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Use of the placenta in diagnosis of EHV-1 and EHV-4-infection
If a foal is aborted, it is often sent to the pathologist to find the reason why this happened. But especially in cases of equine herpesvirus infections, which are often cause abortion, the placenta is at least as useful for the diagnosis than the foal itself. So one should always give the pathologists both, as this interesting German study illustrates...

EHV-1 and EHV-4 abortion diagnosis is based upon detailed examination of the aborted fetus. However, in some cases, only the placenta is available for examination.

Furthermore, the contribution of lesions in the placenta to pathogenesis and diagnosis of EHV-1 and EHV-4 abortion has been neglected.

To assess the utility of placental examination in equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) and EHV-4 abortion diagnosis was the aim of the study. Sections of allantochorion from 49 herpesvirus abortions were analysed by PCR, in situ hybridisation and immunostaining were evaluated.

RESULTS: Virus-specific nested PCR confirmed the presence of viral DNA in 46 cases; 41 cases were EHV-1-positive and 5 EHV-4-positive. Microscopic changes were nonspecific. Examination of the PCR-positive sections of allantochorion revealed EHV-1 DNA by in situ hybridisation (ISH) in 21 cases and EHV-4 in 4 cases.

In 2 samples, DNA of both viruses was present on PCR and ISH.

Viral antigen was found by immunohistology in 15 cases.

Regarding the localisation of virus in the placentae, both viral DNA and antigen of EHV-1 and EHV-4 were found in endothelial cells of chorionic villi and, occasionally, in trophoblast epithelium. In the stromal endothelium, only EHV-1 was found.

CONCLUSIONS: The data indicate that examination of placentae is a useful diagnostic aid in EHV-1 and EHV-4 abortion diagnosis.

Virological examination of the placenta should become standard practice in equine abortion investigations, particularly in those cases where the fetus is not available for examination.



Source: Gerst S, Borchers K, Gower SM, Smith KC. (2003): Detection of EHV-1 and EHV-4 in placental sections of naturally occurring EHV-1- and EHV-4-related abortions in the UK: use of the placenta in diagnosis. In: Equine Vet J. 2003 Jul;35(5):430-3.



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