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Adv Parasitol. 2000;45:181-241.

The immunobiology of gastrointestinal nematode infections in ruminants.

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  • 1Centre for Animal Biotechnology, School of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


The major gastrointestinal nematode parasites of ruminants all belong to the Order Strongylida and the family Trichostrongyloidea. Despite this close evolutionary relationship, distinct differences exist in the microenvironmental niches occupied by the developmental stages of the various parasites, which may account for the variable susceptibility of the different parasite species to the immune effector mechanisms generated by the host. In addition, different manifestations of resistance have been observed against the adult and larval stages of the same parasite species, and even against the same parasite stage. In particular, both rapid and delayed rejection of infective larval stages of gastrointestinal nematode parasites has been documented. This review will give an overview of the various manifestations of resistance to gastrointestinal nematode parasites of ruminants, as well as the immune mechanisms and antigens associated with the generation of immunity by the ruminant hosts to these parasites. In addition, a working model is provided aimed at reconciling most of the present knowledge on the different immune responses generated during infection with the various parasite rejection profiles. Extrapolation of these results to field conditions will need to take into account the variability imposed by seasonal changes and management practices, as well as the individual variability in immune responsiveness present in outbred animal populations.

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