The presence and gene expression of bovine papillomavirus in the peripheral blood and semen of healthy horses.
Papillomavirus (PV) are double-stranded DNA viruses that can cause both benignant and malignant tumours in mammals. Twelve genotypes of bovine papillomavirus (BPV1-12) have been identified so far. The presence of BPV1 and 2 has been found in the body fluids of cattle and horses. The aim of this study is to investigate the presence of BPV DNA and the expression of viral genes in the blood and sperm cells of healthy horses using PCR and RT-PCR. BPV-1 or 2 was detected in 14 of 70 blood samples (20%) and in 11 of 31 semen samples (35%). In five of fourteen blood samples, the E5 expression tested positive, while no blood sample was positive for L1 expression. Four of 11 (36%) semen cell samples proved to be positive for E5 expression, while no gene expression in L1 could be detected. This is the first study that shows BPV1 gene expression in the blood and semen of healthy horses. Our data illustrate the need for a better understanding of the presence of BPV in non-epithelial tissues of horses and their role in the vertical and horizontal transmission of these viruses.