U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska




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Stabel JR, Bannantine JP. 2020. Divergent antigen-specific cellular immune responses during asymptomatic subclinical and clinical states of disease in cows naturally infected with Mycobacterium avium subsp.paratuberculosis. Infect Immun 88:e00650-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/IAI.00650-19.


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Infection of the host with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis results in chronic and progressive enteritis that traverses both subclinical and clinical stages. The mechanism(s) for the shift from an asymptomatic subclinical disease state to advanced clinical disease is not fully understood. In the present study, naturally infected dairy cattle were divided into subclinical and clinical infection groups, along with noninfected control cows of similar parity, to study host immune responses in different stages of infection. Both infection groups had higher levels of secretion of gamma interferon (IFN-􏰇), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-􏰈), and interleukin-2 (IL-2) than control cows, whereas only clinical cows had increased secretion of IL-10, IL-12, and IL-18 upon stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with antigen. Conversely, secretion of IL-17􏰍 was decreased for clinical cows compared to subclinical and control cows. Proinflammatory cytokine genes were upregulated only for subclinical cows, whereas increased IL-10 and IL-17 gene expression levels were observed for both infection groups. Increased CD4􏰎, CD8􏰎, and 􏰇􏰉 T cell receptor-positive (TCR􏰎) T cells were observed for subclinical cows compared to clinical cows. Although clinical cows expressed antigen-specific immune responses, the profile for subclinical cows was one of a dominant proinflammatory response to infection. We reason that a complex coordination of immune responses occurs during M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection, with these responses shifting as the host transitions through the different stages of infection and disease (subclinical to clinical). A further understanding of the series of events characterized by Th1/Th2/Th17 responses will provide mechanisms for disease progression and may direct insightful intervention strategies.

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