Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Apr 11;103(15):5971-6. Epub 2006 Apr 3.

In a bovine model of onchocerciasis, protective immunity exists naturally, is absent in drug-cured hosts, and is induced by vaccination.

Author information

  • 1Veterinary Parasitology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L3 5QA, United Kingdom.


Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is a major parasitic disease of humans in sub-Saharan Africa caused by the microfilarial stage of the nematode Onchocerca volvulus. Using Onchocerca ochengi, a closely related species which infects cattle and is transmitted by the same black fly vector (Simulium damnosum sensu lato) as O. volvulus, we have conducted longitudinal studies after either natural field exposure or experimental infection to determine whether, and under what circumstances, protective immunity exists in onchocerciasis. On the basis of the adult worm burdens (nodules) observed, we determined that cattle reared in endemic areas without detectable parasites (putatively immune) were significantly less susceptible to heavy field challenge than age-matched, naïve controls (P = 0.002), whereas patently infected cattle, cured of infection by adulticide treatment with melarsomine, were fully susceptible. Cattle immunized with irradiated third-stage larvae were significantly protected against experimental challenge (100% reduction in median nodule load, P = 0.003), and vaccination also conferred resistance to severe and prolonged field challenge (64% reduction in median nodule load, P = 0.053; and a significant reduction in microfilarial positivity rates and density, P < 0.05). These results constitute evidence of protective immunity in a naturally evolved host-Onchocerca sp. relationship and provide proof-of-principle for immunoprophylaxis under experimental and field conditions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk