Correlation of virus replication in tissues with histologic lesions in Atlantic salmon experimentally infected with infectious salmon anemia virus
We have studied the replication of virus in tissues and development of lesions associated with infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV) infection in Atlantic salmon using in situ hybridization (ISH) with a riboprobe targeting ISAV RNA segment 7 messenger RNA. Fish were infected with three ISAV isolates (U5575-1, RPC-01-0593-1, Norway 810/9/99) and then euthanatized sequentially at 3, 6, 10, and 13 days postinoculation (dpi) and thereafter once a week for 8 weeks. Severe histopathologic lesions were observed in tissues from all groups beginning at the onset of mortality. The severe histopathologic lesions correlated with maximum intensity and frequency of ISH signals (P < 0.001). There was a strong association between the hybridization signals and severity of lesions in the liver, kidney, and heart (R = 0.81, 0.70, and 0.78, respectively; P < 0.001). The distribution of ISH signals indicated the presence of a viremia because signals were observed predominantly in individual blood cells and endothelial cells, and possibly hematopoietic cells of head kidney, but not in the necrotic hepatocytes and renal epithelium. Of the organs sampled, the heart was the first and last to show ISH signals, possibly because of increased activity of the endocardial endothelial cells and the underlining macrophages, which continuously trap and remove circulating virus, and therefore represents the best tissue sample for screening of suspected infected fish. On the basis of mortality, severity of lesions, and intensity and frequency of ISH signals, ISAV isolate Norway 810/9/99 was the most virulent and U5575-1 the least virulent isolate studied.