Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), a horizontally transmitted retrovirus, is the aetiological agent of feline lymphosarcoma and leukaemia. In addition, the establishment of persistent FeLV viraemia in cats has been associated with the induction of a wide range of non-neoplastic conditions including immunosuppression, reproductive disorders and anaemias. FeLV isolates from cats may be divided into three subgroups, A, B and C, based on their interference patterns. In natural isolates, FeLV-C is always found in association with subgroups A or AB but the subgroup C component may be separated as a non-defective virus capable of establishing a persistent viraemia in neonatal cats. Pure red cell hypoplasia (PRCH) is one of three primary forms of FeLV-associated anaemia recognized in cats and we report here that three new biologically cloned FeLV-C isolates will reproduce this disease. We have demonstrated that infection of cats with FeLV-C/Sarma results in rapid depletion of early erythroid precursors (burst-forming units-erythroid; BFU-E) while the proportion of the myeloid precursor (granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming cells; GM-CFC) in the bone marrow remains normal.
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