Immunological responses of sheep to Haemonchus contortus

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Infections with Haemonchus contortus are a major constraint on ruminant health world-wide. Young lambs are very sensitive to Haemonchus infection. Older lambs and sheep acquire immunity after a continuous or seasonal exposure to the parasite. The mechanisms underlying immunity are still not completely understood. Antibodies, in particular local IgA and IgE, certainly play a role. The role of IgG is less clear. Lymphocyte proliferation responses seem to correlate to immunity. Sheep that have high antigen-induced lymphocyte responses have a low susceptibility to infection. Furthermore, several studies have demonstrated that immunity against H. contortus is associated with mastocytosis and hyper-sensitivity reactions. More recently, increasing attention is being paid to the role of cytokines (interleukins and gamma-interferon) in the activation of specific defence mechanisms. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays to study cytokine mRNA expression have become available. The inability of young lambs to mount a significant Th2 response, which is normally characterized by high IgE levels, mastocytosis and eosinophilia, may account for the phenomenon of unresponsiveness in these animals
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S63-S72
Issue numberSuppl
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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