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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2005 Jun;12(6):727-35.

Antibody responses in reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) infected with Mycobacterium bovis.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Animal Disease Center, P.O. Box 70, Ames, IA 50010-0070, USA.


Despite having a very low incidence of disease, reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) are subject to tuberculosis (TB) testing requirements for interstate shipment and herd accreditation in the United States. Improved TB tests are desperately needed, as many reindeer are falsely classified as reactors by current testing procedures. Sera collected sequentially from 11 (experimentally) Mycobacterium bovis-infected reindeer and 4 noninfected reindeer were evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), immunoblotting, and multiantigen print immunoassay (MAPIA) for antibody specific to M. bovis antigens. Specific antibody was detected as early as 4 weeks after challenge with M. bovis. By MAPIA, sera were tested with 12 native and recombinant antigens, which were used to coat nitrocellulose. All M. bovis-infected reindeer developed responses to MPB83 and a fusion protein, Acr1/MPB83, and 9/11 had responses to MPB70. Other antigens less commonly recognized included MPB59, ESAT-6, and CFP10. Administration of purified protein derivatives for skin testing boosted serum antibody responses, as detected by each of the assays. Of the noninfected reindeer, 2/4 had responses that were detectable immediately following skin testing, which correlated with pathological findings (i.e., presence of granulomatous lesions yet the absence of acid-fast bacteria). The levels of specific antibody produced by infected reindeer appeared to be associated with disease progression but not with cell-mediated immunity. These findings indicate that M. bovis infection of reindeer elicits an antibody response to multiple antigens that can be boosted by skin testing. Serological tests using carefully selected specific antigens have potential for early detection of infections in reindeer.

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