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Specific faecal antibody responses in sheep infected with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis.

Veterinary immunology and immunopathology (2015-07-07)
D J Begg, K de Silva, K M Plain, A C Purdie, N Dhand, R J Whittington
ABSTRACT

Many studies have examined the serum antibody response to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection in cases of Johne's disease (JD), but there are no reports on the mucosal antibody response. Faecal immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgA ELISA responses were examined from sheep experimentally inoculated with MAP for up to 23 months post inoculation (PI). Corresponding serum IgG responses and the presence of viable MAP shed in faeces were also examined. The sheep were divided into three groups: (i) "un-inoculated controls" (n=10), (ii) "clinical cases" (n=8) which were inoculated animals that developed clinical disease and had moderate to high levels of MAP shedding and (iii) "survivors" (n=11) which were inoculated animals from which MAP could not be cultured from tissues at the conclusion of the trial. Serum IgG responses gradually increased in all inoculated animals, peaking at 12-16 months PI. A significant increase in the levels of MAP-specific faecal IgG and IgA was measured in the survivors at 16 and 17 months PI, while levels in the un-inoculated controls and clinical cases remained at baseline levels. The detection of faecal Ig in the survivors coincided with the removal of sheep that developed clinical disease. The data suggest that some sheep produced MAP-specific IgG and IgA in the intestinal mucosa, which was released into their faeces. We hypothesise that the survivors produced faecal Ig as a direct response to ingestion of MAP associated with environmental contamination from clinical cases. Thus MAP specific mucosal antibodies may play a previously unreported role as part of a protective response triggered by environmental exposure.

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