Pathology of experimental SARS coronavirus infection in cats and ferrets

Vet Pathol. 2008 Jul;45(4):551-62. doi: 10.1354/vp.45-4-551.

Abstract

The pathology of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection in cats and ferrets is poorly described, and the distribution of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a receptor for SARS-CoV, in the respiratory tracts of these species is unknown. We observed SARS-CoV antigen expression and lesions in the respiratory tracts of 4 cats and 4 ferrets at 4 days postinoculation and ACE2 expression in the respiratory tracts of 3 cats and 3 ferrets without infection. All infected cats and ferrets had diffuse alveolar damage associated with SARS-CoV antigen expression. A novel SARS-CoV-associated lesion was tracheo-bronchoadenitis in cats. SARS-CoV antigen expression occurred mainly in type I and II pneumocytes and serous cells of tracheo-bronchial submucosal glands of cats and in type II pneumocytes of ferrets. ACE2 expression occurred mainly in type I and II pneumocytes, tracheo-bronchial goblet cells, serous epithelial cells of tracheo-bronchial submucosal glands in cats, and type II pneumocytes and serous epithelial cells of tracheo-bronchial submucosal glands in ferrets. In conclusion, the pathology of SARS-CoV infection in cats and ferrets resembles that in humans except that syncytia and hyaline membranes were not observed. The identification of tracheo-bronchoadenitis in cats has potential implications for SARS pathogenesis and SARS-CoV excretion. Finally, these results show the importance of ACE2 expression for SARS-CoV infection in vivo: whereas ACE2 expression in type I and II pneumocytes in cats corresponded to SARS-CoV antigen expression in both cell types, expression of both ACE2 and SARS-CoV antigen in ferrets was limited mainly to type II pneumocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / metabolism
  • Cats / virology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Ferrets / virology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / metabolism
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / enzymology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / pathology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • SARS Virus / growth & development*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / enzymology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / pathology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms

Substances

  • Antigens, Viral
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2