Cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV; genus Morbillivirus, family Paramyxoviridae) has caused multipleoutbreaks of lethal disease in odontocetes and mysticetes worldwide. CeMV includes three wellcharacterized strains: porpoise morbillivirus, dolphin morbillivirus, and pilot whale morbillivirus(northern hemisphere), and three novel strains, one of them detected in Brazil and considered thefirst description in South America. Studies suggest there is different species-specific susceptibilityto CeMV infection, and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and striped dolphins (Stenellacoeruleoalba) are among the most susceptible ones, with historical fatal epizootics. CeMV maycause severe respiratory, lymphoid, and neurologic disease in susceptible species, leading tostrandings and death. Four major presentations of CeMV-associated pathology (CeMV-AP) arecurrently recognized, which bear resemblance to Measles (MeV) and Distemper (CDV), the majormorbilliviral diseases in humans and dogs, respectively. Furthermore, studies have shown cytokineimbalance in TH1 and TH2 immune responses plays a major role in disease susceptibility andprogression in MeV- and CDV-infected individuals. No previous studies have evaluated the localimmunopathogenetic aspects in tissues other than peripheral blood in CeMV-AP. This study willemploy archival, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded and frozen tissues from organs with majorpathogenetic significance (brain, lung, and lymph nodes) of CeMV-positive bottlenose dolphins andstriped dolphins (central eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea), and selected Brazilian species(southwestern Atlantic), as determined by RT-PCR analysis. A suit of lymphocytic, histiocytic andadditional immunohistochemical markers will be used to characterize the local immune responses.Additionally, the expression of TH1 and TH2 cytokines will be evaluated via RT-qPCR/PCR.Parallel histopathologic, immunohistochemical, and molecular analysis may provide insight intoimmunopathogenetic mechanisms of CeMV-AP, a disease with worldwide distribution and majorconservation significance.
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