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Research article2007

Natural killer cells act as early responders in an experimental infection with Neospora caninum in calves

Klevar S, Kulberg S, Boysen P, Storset AK, Moldal T, Bjorkman C, Olsen I


The intracellular protozoan parasite Neospora caninum is a cause of abortion and congenital disease in cattle worldwide. We have previously shown that natural killer (NK) cells produce IFN-gamma in response to N. caninum tachyzoites in vitro. This study aimed to investigate the role of NK cells and other cellular immune responses in an experimental N. caninum infection model in calves. Phenoyping of peripheral blood lymphocytes showed a drop in the percentage of NK cells at days 4-6 after i.v. inoculation, followed by an increase in the percentage of both NK cells and CD8+ T cells which peaked at days 11-15. A whole blood flow cytometric assay showed that CD4+ T cells were the major IFN-gamma producing cells, but in the early stages of the infection both NK cells and CD8+ T cells contributed to IFN gamma production. We also compared the ability of two different N. caninum antigen preparations - sonicated soluble antigens and intact heat-inactivated parasites - to induce proliferation and IFN-gamma production in various cell types. Heat-inactivated tachyzoites induced a 3.7 times greater increase in the number of IFN-gamma producing NK cells compared with sonicated soluble antigens. This indicated the presence of some NK cell-stimulating antigens in the intact tachyzoite that were absent from the sonicated soluble antigens. The heat-inactivated whole tachyzoites also inhibited 76 T cell proliferation while the soluble antigens from N. caninum did not. We believe this is the first time NK cells have been demonstrated to be early responders in N. caninum infection in calves. (c) 2006 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Published in

International Journal for Parasitology
2007, Volume: 37, number: 3-4, pages: 329-339

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science
    Veterinary Science

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