Evaluation of lung function in pigs either experimentally or naturally infected with Chlamydiaceae

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This study evaluated the influence of chlamydial infections on lung function in conventionally raised pigs. Eight pigs aged 39–44 days were included in an aerogeneous challenge model (4 were exposed to Chlamydia suis; 4 served as controls). Nineteen pigs aged 5–27 weeks without clinical symptoms (but partly PCR-positive for chlamydial species) were examined over 6 months. For lung function testing, impulse oscillometry was used. In total, all 27 pigs underwent 465 lung function tests. Variables of ventilation (respiratory rate, tidal volume, minute volume), respiratory impedance (expressed as resistance and reactance within the frequency range 3–15 Hz), and model derived resistance of proximal and distal airways were measured. Experimental exposure to C. suis significantly affected lung function. Early distal airway obstruction (3–5 days after infection) was followed by an obstruction of proximal airways (7 days after infection). The breathing pattern was significantly changed (decreased tidal volume; increased respiratory rate). In symptom-free pigs having a naturally acquired presence of different chlamydial species in the respiratory system, no deterioration in lung function could be determined up to the age of 6 months. In conclusion, the consequences of respiratory chlamydial infections appear to vary from clinical inapparence to severe respiratory distress.

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