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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1999 Sep 1;70(1-2):105-15.

Heat-shock protein-specific T-cell responses in various stages of bovine paratuberculosis.

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Department of Immunology, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Bovine paratuberculosis is characterized by a chronic inflammation of the small intestine, caused by infection with Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis. Research regarding diagnostic as well as immunopathogenic aspects of paratuberculosis are hampered by the lack of specific antigens. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the potential of mycobacterial heat-shock proteins, as specific antigens, to measure cell-mediated immune responses during various stages of the disease. In a cross-sectional study, peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 179 cows in different stages of M. avium ssp. paratuberculosis infection, vaccinated against paratuberculosis or noninfected, were used to evaluate lymphoproliferative responses to mycobacterial heat-shock protein of 70 kD (HSP70) and 65 kD (HSP65). In addition, lymphoproliferative responses were measured using purified protein derivate (PPD) preparations from M. avium ssp. paratuberculosis, M. avium and M. bovis as antigens. Responses to HSP70 were higher in the vaccinated animals and in asymptomatic animals that shed the organism in their faeces. Compared with these animals, responses were lower in cows with clinical signs of paratuberculosis. Mycobacterial HSP65 induced less prominent responses compared with HSP70, but showed a similar pattern with regard to the stages of disease. Vaccinated and shedding animals also showed the highest responses to PPD derived from M. avium ssp. paratuberculosis (PPD-P). Observations with short-term cell lines raised to PPD-P and to HSP70 indicated that the similarity between those two antigens was not due to the presence of HSP70 in PPD-P. In conclusion, our study indicated that, as for PPD antigens the mycobacterial heat-shock protein-specific cell-mediated immune responses decrease when comparing the asymptomatic stage to the clinical stage in bovine paratuberculosis. Furthermore, this study shows that HSP70, being a well-defined antigen in comparison with PPD antigens, can be used to monitor cell-mediated immune responses in studies regarding the immunopathogenesis of bovine paratuberculosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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