Application of pigeon circovirus recombinant capsid protein for detecting anti-PiCV antibodies in the sera of asymptomatic domestic pigeons and the potential use of a combination of serological and molecular tests for controlling circovirus infections in pigeon breeding flocks

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the serologic status of domestic pigeons not infected and asymptomatically infected with the pigeon circovirus (PiCV) with the use of an enzyme-linked assay based on PiCV recombinant capsid protein as a plate antigen. Recombinant PiCV capsid protein was produced by transforming E. coli BL21 (DE3) Rosetta colonies with expression plasmids.

Blood samples and cloacal swabs were collected from 171 asymptomatic pigeons. The birds were divided into two groups (infected and not infected with PiCV) based on the results of Sybr Green real time PCR screening for the presence of PiCV genetic material. Approximately 70% of the pigeons tested positive for anti-PiCV antibodies regardless of their infection status. Antibody levels, the coefficient of variation and standard deviation were significantly higher in the group of infected pigeons.

The results indicate that ELISA is a highly useful test that complements molecular methods in evaluations of PiCV infection status in domestic pigeons. The spread of pigeon circovirus infections can be controlled by keeping breeding flocks free of PiCV, which can only be achieved by subjecting birds to real time PCR and serological tests.

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