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Vet Parasitol. 2002 Jun 26;106(3):225-42.

Antigen-specific IgG(T) responses in natural and experimental cyathostominae infection in horses.

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Department of Veterinary Clinical Science, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, South Wirral CH64 7TE, UK.


Equine clinical larval cyathostominosis is caused by simultaneous mass emergence of previously inhibited larvae from the mucosa of the colon. Clinical signs include diarrhoea, colic, weight loss and malaise, and in up to 50% of cases, the disease results in death. Cyathostominae spend a large part of their life cycle as larval stages in the intestinal mucosa. Definitive diagnosis is difficult due to the lack of diagnostic methods for pre-patent infection. In the present study, the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to investigate isotype responses to larval cyathostominae somatic antigen. Measurement of anti-larval IgG(T) responses appeared to have the most immunodiagnostic potential. An increase in IgG(T) response was detected to crude larval antigen by 5 weeks post-infection (PI) in individual infected ponies. Subsequently, IgG(T) responses to larval and adult somatic extracts were examined by Western blotting using sera from experimentally-infected horses and helminth-naive animals (n=6). Two antigen complexes, designated A and B, in larval somatic antigen were recognised specifically by the infected animals by 7 weeks PI. Sera taken from 23 endemically-infected animals, whose cyathostominae burdens had been enumerated, were also used to identify putative diagnostic antigens. Eighteen horses had positive mucosal worm burdens (range 723-3,595,725) and all but two of these animals had serum IgG(T) antibody specific to either complex. Moreover, IgG(T) responses specific to antigen complexes A and B were absent in all five parasite negative horses that were tested. Serum IgG(T) responses to either of the two complexes were identified in five clinical cases tested. IgG(T) responses to adult antigen somatic extracts were more heterogeneous, with no clear pattern between experimentally-infected ponies and helminth-free controls. The results indicate that increases in serum IgG(T) to mucosal larvae occur in the pre-patent period and that two antigenic complexes within somatic preparations of these stages have immunodiagnostic potential.

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