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Immunology. 2005 Jan;114(1):101-11.

Influence of pathological progression on the balance between cellular and humoral immune responses in bovine tuberculosis.

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Veterinary Sciences Division, The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Stoney Road, Stormont, Belfast, BT4 3SD, UK.


Studies of tuberculosis have suggested a shift in dominance from a T helper type 1 (Th1) towards a Th2 immune response that is associated with suppressed cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses and increased humoral responses as the disease progresses. In this study a natural host disease model was used to investigate the balance of the evolving immune response towards Mycobacterium bovis infection in cattle with respect to pathogenesis. Cytokine analysis of CD4 T-cell clones derived from M. bovis-infected animals gave some indication that there was a possible relationship between enhanced pathogenesis and an increased ratio of Th0 [interleukin-4-positive/interferon-gamma-positive (IL-4(+)/IFN-gamma(+))] clones to Th1 (IFN-gamma(+)) clones. All animals developed strong antimycobacterial CMI responses, but depressed cellular responses were evident as the disease progressed, with the IFN-gamma test failing to give consistently positive results in the latter stages. Furthermore, a stronger Th0 immune bias, depressed in vitro CMI responses, elevated levels of IL-10 expression and enhanced humoral responses were also associated with increased pathology. In minimal disease, however, a strong Th1 immune bias was maintained and an anti-M. bovis humoral response failed to develop. It was also seen that the level of the anti-M. bovis immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) isotype antibody responses correlated with the pathology scores, whereas CMI responses did not have as strong a relationship with the development of pathology. Therefore, the development and maintenance of a Th1 IFN-gamma response is associated with a greater control of M. bovis infection. Animals progressing from a Th1-biased to a Th0-biased immune response developed more extensive pathology and performed less well in CMI-based diagnostic tests but developed strong IgG1 humoral responses.

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