Susceptibility of a fetal tongue cell line derived from bighorn sheep to five serotypes of bluetongue virus and its potential for the isolation of viruses


California Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System, University of California, Davis 95616.

A cell line (BHFTE) was derived from a tongue explant of a bighorn sheep fetus (Ovis canadensis nelsoni). The cells have been maintained through 23 serial passages, and the modal number of chromosomes was calculated to be 55. Monolayer cultures were shown to be susceptible to various viruses, including bluetongue virus (BTV). Of 5 BTV serotypes (2, 10, 11, 13, and 17) tested, each produced a cytopathic effect (CPE) on initial passage at 33 C. A field isolate (serotype 10) of BTV from a black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) in its second passage in Vero-M cells also produced CPE when inoculated into BHFTE cells. Antigens of BTV were demonstrated by direct immunofluorescence in the cytoplasm of BHFTE cells inoculated with homogenates of chicken embryos injected with clinical specimens from a domestic sheep and an Arabian oryx (Oryx gazella leucoryx). A suspension of BTV-infected gnats (Culicoides spp.) produced CPE and BTV-specific fluorescence on the first passage in cells inoculated with a suspension of blood from sheep experimentally infected with BTV. Additionally, selected bovine viruses induced CPE in the cells. The cell line, which is free of mycoplasma and bovine viral diarrhea virus contamination, may be useful in diagnostic medicine and research involving the ruminant species.


Castro AE, Montague SR, Dotson JF, Jessup DA, et al.: J Vet Diagn Invest 1: 247-253, 1989.