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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Scientists Isolate Protein that Helps Fight Mastitis

By Sandy Hays
December 24, 1996

Neutrophils--a type of white blood cell--go into action against dairy cows’ mastitis infections when they get the signal from a naturally produced protein.

The protein was isolated and purified in studies in 1994-95 by Max J. Paape of the ARS Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory at Beltsville, Md., and visiting scientist Pascal Rainard of the Institut National de la Recherches Agronomique, Nouzilly, France.

The next step: Pinpointing how the protein directs neutrophils into the mammary gland and how much protein is needed for an effective neutrophil response.

Mastitis, an infection of the cows’ udder, costs U.S. dairy farmers $2 billion annually in treatment and lost milk production. When a cow’s udder becomes infected, neutrophils rush to attack the invading bacteria. Until now, researchers had little information on what triggered the neutrophils’ charge. The protein might someday be used in cows to protect against mastitis-causing bacteria.

Scientific contact: Max J. Paape, Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory, Beltsville, MD (301) 504-8302

Last Modified: 5/15/2017
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