Coronavirus-like particles were found by electron microscopy in stools from infants with necrotizing enterocolitis. Stool samples from these infants as well as control specimens were passaged in cultures of human fetal intestinal organs. Two samples yielded virus-like particles and these have now been passaged 14 times (HEC 14). Gradient-purified HEC 14 strains had typical coronavirus morphology on electron microscopy and contained five major proteins with molecular sizes ranging from 190 to 23 kilodaltons. Infants with necrotizing enterocolitis developed specific antibody to the viral antigens between the acute and convalescent stages of the disease, as shown by examining serum specimens by single radial hemolysis, immunoenzymatic assay, and Western immunoblotting. No cross-reactivity was shown with other coronavirus strains tested, or with the newly isolated viruses of the Breda-Berne group, responsible for calf or horse diarrhea.
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