The main target cells for African swine fever virus (ASFV) replication in pigs are of monocyte macrophage lineage and express markers typical of the intermediate to late stages of differentiation. The lack of a porcine cell line, which accurately represents these target cells, limits research on virus host interactions and the development of live-attenuated vaccine strains. We show here that the continuously growing, growth factor dependent ZMAC-4 porcine macrophage cell line is susceptible to infection with eight different field isolates of ASFV. Replication in ZMAC-4 cells occurred with similar kinetics and to similar high titres as in primary porcine bone marrow cells. In addition we showed that twelve passages of an attenuated strain of ASFV, OURT88/3, in ZMAC-4 cells did not reduce the ability of this virus to induce protection against challenge with virulent virus. Thus, the ZMAC-4 cells provide an alternative to primary cells for ASFV replication.
Keywords: African swine fever virus; ZMAC; macrophage cell line; vaccine; virus replication.