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Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is one of the most important infectious agents for the swine industry worldwide. Zinc (Zn) salts, which are widely used as a dietary supplement in swine nutrition, have shown antiviral effects in vitro as well as in vivo. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of dietary zinc oxide supplementation on vaccination and challenge infection with PRRSV.
The clinical course of PRRS and the success of vaccination with an experimental inactivated vaccine were compared between animals receiving a conventional diet (50 ppm Zn, control group) and diets supplemented with Zn oxide (ZnO) at final Zn concentrations of 150 or 2,500 ppm. Pigs receiving higher dietary Zn levels showed a tendency towards higher neutralizing antibody levels after infection, while dietary Zn levels did not substantially influence the number of antiviral IFN-gamma secreting cells (IFN-gamma-SC) or percentages of blood immune cell subsets after infection. Finally, feeding higher dietary Zn levels reduced neither clinical symptoms nor viral loads.
Our results suggest that higher levels of dietary ZnO do not have the potential to stimulate or modulate systemic immune responses after vaccination and heterologous PRRSV infection to an extent that could improve the clinical and virological outcome.