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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1998 Dec 11;66(3-4):343-58.

A study of immunological responses of sheep clinically-affected with paratuberculosis (Johne's disease). The relationship of blood, mesenteric lymph node and intestinal lymphocyte responses to gross and microscopic pathology.

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Moredun Research Institute, International Research Centre, Penicuik, Midlothian, UK.


Nineteen adult sheep diagnosed as having clinical paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) and 16 unaffected controls were examined in this study. Animals were tested for the presence of circulating antibodies of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (M. a. paratuberculosis) and lymphocytes derived from the blood, mesenteric lymph nodes and intestines were examined for cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses to Johnin pure protein derivative (Johnin-PPD: J-PPD). Bacteriological examinations were carried out on faeces and tissues and any mycobacterial isolates identified as M. a. paratuberculosis (IS900+) or M. avium ssp. silvaticum (M. a. silvaticum) (IS901+) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Full necropsy and histopathological studies were performed and diseased animals were categorised on the basis of having a lepromatous or tuberculoid form of intestinal pathology. Unaffected control sheep were generally antibody-negative and demonstrated varying CMI responses to J-PPD. Clinically-affected animals were almost always antibody-positive with variable CMI responses. A correlation was observed between the histological lesion type in the intestine and the cellular immune response. Tuberculoid-type lesions were associated with strong CMI responses in lymphocytes derived from the peripheral blood, mesenteric lymph node and intestine, whereas lepromatous-type lesions were associated with weak CMI responses in all tissues examined.

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