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Int J Parasitol. 1999 Oct;29(10):1647-57.

Oral infection of calves with Neospora caninum oocysts from dogs: humoral and cellular immune responses.

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US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Livestock and Poultry Sciences Institute, Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA.


Neospora caninum has been identified as a major cause of abortion in cattle in a number of countries throughout the world. Until the recent demonstration that dogs can serve as a definitive host of this parasite, it was not possible to study the infection in cattle orally exposed to oocysts. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of N. caninum oocysts to infect calves, and to define initial immune responses that arise after oral infection. Seven calves were fed approximately 10(4)-10(5) N. caninum oocysts, three calves served as uninfected controls. Before infection, all calves were serologically negative for anti-Neospora antibodies and the calves were non-reactive to Neospora antigen in an in vitro lymphocyte proliferation assay. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from inoculated calves were able to mount in vitro proliferative responses to crude N. caninum antigen extract as early as 1 week p.i. Within 2 and 4 weeks p.i., Neospora-specific IgG1 and IgG2 antibodies were detected by IFAT and ELISA in serum from infected calves but not from sham-infected calves. The continued presence of reactive cells in the blood, spleen and mesenteric, inguinal, bronchial lymph nodes was seen as late as 2.5 months p.i., and parasite DNA was detected in the brain and spinal cord of the infected animals by PCR, indicating that the cattle were infected by oral inoculation of N. caninum oocysts collected from dogs, and that the animals were systematically sensitised by parasite antigen.

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