Atherosclerosis and Viral Gene in Japanese Quail

  • Jason C. H. Shih
  • Roman Pyrzak
Part of the GWUMC Department of Biochemistry Annual Spring Symposia book series (GWUN)


Two lines of Japanese quail were genetically selected. One is highly susceptible (SUS) to atherosclerosis, developing severe aortic atherosclerosis in 9 weeks by feeding 0.5% cholesterol in the diet. The other is highly resistant (RES), developing little disease under the same conditions. The pathology of quail atherosclerosis, characterized by intimal thickening, the presence of foam cells, the proliferation of myofibroblast cells, and the formation of scar with collagen deposition, is similar to the human disease. Because of its small size, low feed consumption, and short life cycle, these quail are an excellent model for the study for prevention and pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. A study has shown that the quail respond to treatment with nicotinic acid, gemfibrozil, clofibrate, and aspirin with reduction of atherosclerosis. More recently these birds were tested for the presence of a herpes virus, Marek disease virus (MDV), as a possible etiologic agent. Initial diagnosis by isolation of MDV and agar precipitin test was negative. However, when a gene library of MDV was used to prepare a battery of radioactive DNA probes, high-stringency DNA hybridization has demonstrated the presence of viral genes in quail aorta, heart, nucleated RBC, and embryo. The intensity of hybridization increased with the increased severity of atherosclerosis in aortas. In embryos, all SUS quail were positive, but only a part of RES quail were positive. These results indicated that these quail were latently infected by a putative herpes virus closely related to MDV. Since DNA homology was detected in the embryo, it is possible that the viral genes are integrated in the host DNA, and they are the heritable elements for the susceptibility to atherosclerosis.


Nicotinic Acid Herpes Virus Lipoic Acid Japanese Quail Genetic Selection 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason C. H. Shih
    • 1
  • Roman Pyrzak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Poultry ScienceNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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