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Immunological and pathological responses of red deer resistant or susceptible genotypes, to experimental challenge with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis

Mackintosh, C.G., Clark, R.G., Tolentino, B., de Lisle, G.W., Liggett, S., Griffin, J.F.T.
Veterinary immunology and immunopathology 2011 v.143 no.1-2 pp. 131-142
Cervus elaphus, Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, antibodies, biopsy, deer, euthanasia, genotype, heritability, immune response, lymph nodes, monitoring, necropsy, paratuberculosis, progeny, stags
This study aimed to monitor the clinical, immunological and pathological changes in red deer for 49 weeks after experimental oral challenge with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) and to assess the heritability of resistance in the offspring of two red stags. Eighteen young deer, which were bred from unselected hinds and sired by two stags resistant (R) or susceptible (S) to paratuberculosis, were challenged with MAP and monitored for 49 weeks. Biopsy samples of the jejunal lymph node were collected at Weeks 4 and 13 and at necropsy after euthanasia of clinically affected animals or when electively killed at Week 49. Three animals (two S and one R) developed clinical disease and were euthanised. The nine S offspring had significantly more severe lesions than the nine R offspring (Mantel–Haenszel Chi-square P=0.017). The average Lesion Severity Score (LSS) of R offspring was 5.9 (mild), and 7/9 had no or very mild lesions. In contrast, the LSS of S offspring averaged 11.7 (severe), and 7/9 had severe lesions. Most of the resistant, but not the susceptible, animals showed evidence of resolving lesions and a reduction in the number of MAP between 13 and 49 weeks after challenge. One R offspring appeared to completely cure itself, and progressed from mild culture-positive paratuberculosis lesions at Week 13 to having no signs of disease or infection 36 weeks later. This study showed significant heritable resistance/susceptibility to paratuberculosis and key differences in immunological responses in the first 3 months after challenge, indicating different paths to relative success or failure to control MAP. In general, R deer had higher IFN-γ levels, low antibody titres and fewer MAP, while S deer had lower IFN-γ levels, higher antibody and more MAP.