Lymphoplasmacytic inflammation associated with bornavirus N protein occurs in the epicardial ganglia, myocardium and endocardium of birds diagnosed with proventricular dilatation disease (PDD). These pathological findings suggest that sudden death in psittacine birds might stem from cardiac compromise due to parrot bornavirus (PaBV) infection. Therefore, we investigated cardiac lesions in cases of PDD, searching databases from 1988 to 2019, and reviewed three experimental studies of PaBV infection. Fifty cases of PDD in birds infected naturally with PaBV and 27 cases of PDD in birds infected experimentally with PaBV (all having descriptions of inflammatory cardiac lesions) were reviewed. For each case, five regions of the heart were evaluated by light microscopy and immunohistochemistry (IHC). These regions were the epicardial ganglia/nerves, the endocardium, the myocardium, the Purkinje fibres and the great vessels. Sudden death was documented in 17/50 naturally infected cases, while 23/50 had digestive signs, and only 12/50 had neurological signs. Grossly, only five naturally-infected and five experimentally-infected cases had cardiomegaly or hydropericardium. Epicardial ganglioneuritis was the most consistent microscopical finding in natural (46/50) and experimental cases (26/27), followed by myocarditis (34/50) for naturally-infected and endocarditis for experimentally-infected birds (6/27). PaBV-2 antigen was detected most frequently by IHC in the epicardial ganglia (54/77) compared with the other tissues. This retrospective study demonstrates the presence of PaBV protein and inflammation in the heart of birds infected with PaBV and suggests a link between PaBV and cardiac disease and sudden death in psittacine birds.
- Epicardial Ganglioneuritis
- Sudden Death
- Proventricular Dilatation Disease