Suckling rats were inoculated with a group B rotavirus to determine the progression of the morphologic changes induced in the intestine by this virus. Several changes were observed by light microscopy 1 day after viral inoculation: shortening of small intestinal villi, villous epithelial necrosis, and villous epithelial syncytia. The lesions were most often present in the distal small intestine, although other small intestinal segments were affected to a lesser degree. By day 3 post-inoculation, epithelial necrosis, and syncytia were no longer present; however, the villous epithelium was disorganized and irregularly vacuolated, and intestinal crypt epithelium was hyperplastic. Alterations in villous height to crypt depth ratios were present in portions of the small intestine for the remainder of the 12-day study period. Epithelial syncytia appeared to form by the breakdown of the lateral interdigitating membranes of the absorptive villous epithelium. Viral particles, abundant in the syncytia, appeared to form from amorphous or reticular arrays of viral precursor material. Group B rotaviral antigens, as detected by indirect immunofluorescence, were present in large amounts in the small intestinal villous epithelium only on the first day after viral inoculation. These studies show that two important diagnostic features of group B rotaviral infections of rats, epithelial syncytia and viral antigen as determined by immunofluorescence, are present only on the first day of disease. These findings should be taken into consideration when attempting to diagnose disease induced by this agent.
ASJC Scopus subject areas