Use of polymerase chain reaction to diagnose bovine leukemia virus infection in calves at birth.

A. Agresti, W. Ponti, M. Rocchi, R. Meneveri, A. Marozzi, D. Cavalleri, E. Peri, G. Poli, E. Ginelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was devised, allowing detection of 1 bovine leukemia virus (BLV)-infected cell in 10(4) bovine lymphocytes. The efficacy of field application of the developed method was verified by evaluating the rate of viral transmission to calves from infected cows, whether they have persistent lymphocytosis. With this objective, 43 calves were simultaneously tested at birth and at 6 months of age for viral antibodies in serum and for proviral DNA in lymphocytes. At birth, 36 calves were BLV-negative and 3 were BLV-positive by results of serologic and DNA-based assays. Conversely, results for 4 calves had lack of correlation between the diagnostic methods. In particular, 2 calves were DNA-positive and antibody-negative for BLV and 2 other calves had the opposite test results. At 6 months of age, when the immunologic pattern more closely reflects the status of calves' immune response, independent of maternal antibodies, all calves DNA-negative for BLV at birth (n = 38), were consistently PCR- and antibody-negative for BLV. On the contrary, the cattle DNA-positive for BLV at birth (n = 5), whether seropositive or not, were PCR- and antibody-positive for BLV, at the time of the second screening. Thus, these results indicate reliability of the PCR to diagnose perinatal BLV infection. Furthermore, the observation that all calves found to be infected at birth were born to BLV-positive cows with persistent lymphocytosis, indicates that the persistent lymphocytosis status of the cow may represent a factor associated with BLV infection in utero.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Veterinary Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of polymerase chain reaction to diagnose bovine leukemia virus infection in calves at birth.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this