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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2006 Mar;13(3):387-94.

Effects of different tuberculin skin-testing regimens on gamma interferon and antibody responses in cattle experimentally infected with Mycobacterium bovis.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, 2300 Dayton Avenue, Ames, IA 50010, USA.


Although tuberculin skin testing has been a hallmark of bovine tuberculosis eradication campaigns, it lacks sensitivity, can be confounded by exposure to nontuberculous mycobacteria, and cannot be repeated for 60 days due to desensitization. To overcome these difficulties, an effective whole-blood cellular immunoassay for bovine gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) has been developed. The IFN-gamma test is commonly used in conjunction with tuberculin skin testing as a confirmatory test following a positive response to the caudal fold test (CFT). The present study was conducted to determine the effect of different tuberculin skin-testing regimens on IFN-gamma and antibody production by using calves that were experimentally infected with Mycobacterium bovis. Holstein calves were CFT tested 60 days after inoculation and the comparative cervical test (CCT) was conducted 7 (7-day CCT) or 55 (55-day CCT) days after the CFT. In both the 7-day CCT and 55-day CCT groups, IFN-gamma responses increased 3 days after the CFT; this was immediately followed by a decrease to pre-skin test levels 7 days after the CFT. In both groups, the application of the CCT at 7 or 55 days after the CFT resulted in no significant increase in IFN-gamma production. The administration of the CFT and the CCT to M. bovis-inoculated cattle boosted antibody responses to M. bovis PPD, rMPB83, ESAT-6, and the fusion protein Acr1-MPB83. The boosting effect was more pronounced in the 55-day CCT group. Increases in either IFN-gamma or antibody production were not seen in noninoculated cattle. Measurement of both IFN-gamma and antibody responses after skin testing may be useful in identifying M. bovis-infected cattle; however, the timing of collection of such samples may influence interpretation.

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