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


Date of this Version



Veterinary Pathology 2019, Vol. 56(5) 671-680

DOI: 10.1177/0300985819844823


U.S. government works are not subject to copyright.


Johne’s disease is an enteric disease caused by the intracellular pathogen Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). Upon ingestion of MAP, it is translocated across the intestinal epithelium and may be killed by intestinal macrophages, or depending on the bacterial burden and immunological status of the animal, MAP may thwart innate defense mechanisms and persist within the macrophage. This study aimed to determine the numbers of macrophages and MAP present in bovine midileal tissue during different stages of infection. Immunofluorescent (IF) labeling was performed on frozen bovine midileal intestinal tissue collected from 28 Holstein dairy cows. The number of macrophages in midileal tissue sections was higher for clinically affected cows, followed by subclinically affected cows and then uninfected control cows. Macrophages were present throughout the tissue sections in clinical cows, including the tunica muscularis, submucosa, and the lamina propria around the crypts and in the villous tips, with progressively fewer macrophages in subclinically affected and control cows. Clinically affected cows also demonstrated significantly higher numbers of MAP and higher numbers of macrophages with intracellular MAP compared to subclinically affected cows. MAP IF labeling was present within the submucosa and lamina propria around the crypts, progressing into the villous tips in some clinically affected cows. Our findings indicate that number of macrophages increases with progression of infection, but a significant number of the macrophages present in the midileum are not associated with MAP.

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