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Int J Parasitol. 2004 Jan;34(1):101-8.

Characterisation of IgG(T) serum antibody responses to two larval antigen complexes in horses naturally- or experimentally-infected with cyathostomins.

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


Cyathostomins are the most common parasitic nematodes of horses. Larval stages, which inhabit the intestinal wall, are particularly pathogenic and can cause severe colitis and colic. Despite their clinical importance, diagnostic techniques for the prepatent stages do not exist. A method that could estimate mucosal infection intensity would have a major impact on the control and diagnosis of cyathostominosis. Here, serum IgG(T) responses to two larval antigen complexes of 25 and 20 kDa were quantified in horses with experimental infections, natural infections and in horses that presented with clinical larval cyathostominosis. In experimentally-infected animals, anti-25 kDa complex IgG(T) levels correlated positively with field exposure and with early third stage larval (r(s)=0.74, P=0.015) and total mucosal parasite (r(s)=0.78, P=0.010) burdens. In naturally exposed horses whose parasite burdens were quantified upon post-mortem examination, antigen-specific IgG(T) responses were significantly higher in infected than in uninfected horses (P=0.0001 and 0.002, for anti-25 and anti-20 kDa responses, respectively). In these animals, anti-25 kDa IgG(T) levels correlated positively with mucosal and lumenal burdens (P<0.05). IgG(T) responses to the 20 kDa antigen complex correlated positively with lumenal burdens (P=0.0043). In cases of larval cyathostominosis, antigen-specific IgG(T) levels were significantly higher than in uninfected ponies (P=0.002 and 0.0035, for anti-25 and anti-20 kDa responses, respectively). These results provide evidence that these two complexes contain antigens with potential as markers for prepatent cyathostomin infection.

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