Transmissible viral proventriculitis (TVP) was experimentally reproduced in specific-pathogen-free chickens using a homogenate of proventricular tissue obtained from TVP-affected commercial broiler chickens. Thin-section electron microscopy revealed intranuclear, approximately 70-nanometer (nm), adenovirus-like viruses (AdLV) within proventricular lesions. The AdLV, designated AdLV (R11/3), could not be propagated using various avian and mammalian cell cultures or by inoculation of embryonated chicken eggs by yolk, allantoic, or chorioallantoic membrane routes. However, AdLV (R11/3) was successfully propagated by amniotic inoculation of embryonated chicken eggs, with detection of the virus in proventriculi and intestinal contents of hatched 2-day-old chicks (8 days postinoculation). Virus propagation was evident in in ovo–inoculated chicks by 1) gross and microscopic lesions in proventriculi consistent with TVP, 2) immunohistochemical localization of AdLV (R11/3) antigens in proventricular epithelium, 3) thin-section electron microscopic detection of intranuclear, approximately 70-nm AdLVs within proventricular epithelium, and 4) negative-stain electron microscopic detection of extracellular, approximately 70-nm AdLVs in intestinal contents. Indirect immunofluorescence and polymerase chain reaction procedures that specifically recognize groups I, II, and III avian adenoviruses failed to recognize AdLV (R11/3). The findings suggest an etiologic role for AdLV (R11/3) in TVP and indicate that this virus is distinct from known avian adenoviruses.
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Vol. 49 • No. 3