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Infect Immun. 2007 Mar;75(3):1373-81. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Experimental Fasciola hepatica infection alters responses to tests used for diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis.

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Veterinary Sciences Centre, School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, College of Life Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


Fasciola hepatica is a prevalent helminth parasite of livestock. Infection results in polarization of the host's immune response and generation of type 2 helper (Th2) immune responses, which are known to be inhibitory to Th1 responses. Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is a bacterial disease of economic and zoonotic importance. Control polices for this disease rely on extensive annual testing and a test-and-slaughter policy. The correct diagnosis of BTB relies on cell-mediated immune responses. We established a model of coinfection of F. hepatica and Mycobacterium bovis BCG to examine the impact of helminth infection on correct diagnosis. We found the predictive capacity of tests to be compromised in coinfected animals and that F. hepatica infection altered macrophage function. Interleukin-4 and gamma interferon expression in whole-blood lymphocytes restimulated in vitro with M. bovis antigen was also altered in coinfected animals. These results raise the question of whether F. hepatica infection can affect the predictive capacity of tests for the diagnosis of BTB and possibly also influence susceptibility to BTB and other bacterial diseases. Further studies on the interplay between helminth infection and BTB are warranted.

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