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Parasite Immunol. 2007 Apr;29(4):219-28.

Peripheral immune responses in pregnant cattle following Neospora caninum infection.

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Veterinary Parasitology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine/Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.


Experimental infection of cattle with Neospora caninum in early gestation causes foetal death, but the foetus survives infection in late gestation. An immunological mechanism of abortion has been suggested; therefore changes in the maternal immune response during pregnancy could account for these differences. We have investigated the peripheral immune responses of pregnant cattle following an intravenous inoculation with 10(7) N. caninum tachyzoites in early and late gestation. Percentages of CD2+ and CD4+ T-cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) increased 1-2 weeks after infection in both early (day 70) and late (day 210) gestation, and percentages of CD8+ T-cells increased 1-2 weeks after infection at day 70. Interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) mRNA expression in PBMC increased 1-2 weeks after infection at day 210 and IL-4 increased 1-2 weeks after infection at day 70. Immunomagnetic isolation of CD4+ cells from PBMC showed that they were a major source of IL-4 and IFN-gamma, and expression of both cytokines increased in CD4+ cells after infection in early and late gestation. These results suggest that CD4+ cells proliferate and express IL-4 and IFN-gamma in response to N. caninum irrespective of the stage of gestation when infection occurs.

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