Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #268257

Title: Cytokine gene expression at the materno-foetal interface after experimental Neospora caninum infection of heifers at 110 days of gestation

item ALMERIA, S - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item DARWICH, L - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item ARAUJO, R - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item Dubey, Jitender
item Gasbarre, Louis

Submitted to: Parasite Immunology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2011
Publication Date: 5/2/2011
Citation: Almeria, S., Darwich, L., Araujo, R.N., Dubey, J.P., Gasbarre, L.C. 2011. Cytokine gene expression at the materno-foetal interface after experimental Neospora caninum infection of heifers at 110 days of gestation. Parasite Immunology. 33(9):517-523.

Interpretive Summary: Neospora caninum is a single-celled parasite, very closely related to Toxoplasma gondii. It causes abortion in cattle and paralysis in companion animals. It is the most important cause of abortion in dairy cattle. Dogs and coyotes are its definitive hosts and main reservoirs of infection. This parasite is transmitted efficiently from the cow to the calf transplacentally. Scientist at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and a university in Spain report pathogenesis of fetal infection in experimentally infected cows. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.

Technical Abstract: Neospora caninum is a major cause of abortion in cattle but the reasons why some animals abort and not others remain unclear. The immunological control of the parasite in the placenta or by the foetus could be the key to determining the mechanism of abortion and/or transplacental transmission to the foetus. In this study, cytokine gene expression, analyzed by real time RT-PCR, at the maternal placenta (caruncle) and at the foetal placenta (cotyledon) of heifers infected at 110 days of gestation by intravenous inoculation of N. caninum tachyzoites was compared to the immune responses in those tissues from uninfected pregnant heifers. Animals were euthanized 3 weeks after infection. Up-regulated Th1, Th2 and regulatory expression was observed in both the maternal and the foetal placenta in the infected group. In the caruncle of infected animals the main changes of cytokine gene expression, included up-regulation of IFN-', IL-12p40, IL-6 and IL-10. In the cotyledon IFN-', IL-4 and IL-10 were up-regulated. The only cytokine that showed down-regulated expression in the infected group was TGF-ß in the cotyledon. The observed cytokine expression pattern was associated with alive but transplacentally infected foetuses suggesting that such cytokine pattern is beneficial to foetal survival, but could have a role in the transplacental transmission of the parasite.