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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2011 Mar;18(3):393-405. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00359-10. Epub 2011 Jan 12.

Early immune markers associated with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection in a neonatal calf model.

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USDA-ARS, National Animal Disease Center, 1920 Dayton Ave., Building 20, Ames, IA 50010, USA.


The objective of this study was to observe early markers of cell-mediated immunity in naïve calves infected with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis and how expression of these markers evolved over the 12-month period of infection. Groups for experimental infection included control (noninfected), oral (infected orally with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strain K-10), oral/DXM (pretreatment with dexamethasone before oral inoculation), intraperitoneal (i.p.) inoculation, and oral/M (oral inoculation with mucosal scrapings from a cow with clinical disease) groups. One of the earliest markers to emerge was antigen-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ). Only i.p. inoculated calves had detectable antigen-specific IFN-γ responses at 7 days, with responses of the other infection groups becoming detectable at 90 and 120 days. All infection groups maintained robust IFN-γ responses for the remainder of the study. At 1 month, calves in the oral and oral/M groups had higher antigen-stimulated interleukin-10 (IL-10) levels than calves in the other treatment groups, but IL-10 secretion declined by 12 months for all calves. T-cell activation markers such as CD25, CD26, CD45RO, and CD5 were significantly upregulated in infected calves compared to noninfected controls. Oral inoculation of calves resulted in significantly increased antigen-specific lymphocyte proliferation at 9 and 12 months, as well as inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) secretion at 6 and 12 months. These results demonstrate that infection of naïve calves with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis invoked early immunologic responses characterized by robust antigen-specific IFN-γ responses and induction of CD25 and CD45RO expression on T-cell subsets. These were followed by antigen-specific lymphocyte proliferation, iNOS secretion, and expression of CD26 and CD5(bright) markers in the latter part of the 12-month study.

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