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Infect Immun. 1998 Nov;66(11):5344-9.

Diversity of antigen recognition by serum antibodies in experimental bovine tuberculosis.

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  • 1Public Health Research Institute, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Tuberculosis in cattle remains a major zoonotic and economic problem in many countries. The standard diagnostic assay for bovine tuberculosis, the intradermal tuberculin test, has low accuracy. Therefore, alternative immunodiagnostic methods, such as serological assays, are needed for detection of infected animals. Development of an accurate serodiagnostic test requires a detailed understanding of the humoral immune responses during bovine tuberculosis and, in particular, identification of the key antigens of Mycobacterium bovis involved in antibody production. In this study, we characterized antibody responses in cattle experimentally infected with M. bovis. Sequential serum samples were collected every 3 to 4 weeks for up to 27 months postinfection. Circulating immunoglobulin G antibody levels were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using 12 highly purified recombinant proteins of M. bovis. Six proteins, ESAT-6, 14-kDa protein, MPT63, MPT70, MPT51, and MPT32, were identified as major seroreactive antigens in bovine tuberculosis. A remarkable animal-to-animal variation of antigen recognition by serum antibodies was observed. Kinetic analyses of the antibody production to individual antigens during infection revealed that the heterogeneous antigen recognition profile changed markedly in a given infected animal as disease progressed.

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