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Detrimental effect of bovine leukemia virus (BLV) on the immunological state of cattle.


Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1996 Nov;54(1-4):293-302. Unique Identifier :

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is a retrovirus which seems to affect both the humoral and the cellular immune response. Cows affected by enzootic bovine leukemia (EBL) showed a reduction of IgM-producing cells in the spleen and lymph nodes. Experimentally infected calves had lower levels of secretory IgM and a decrease in T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood. The reduction in the amount of T cells was noticed mainly in cells bearing the CD4 markers. BLV-infected animals showed diminished responsiveness to newly encountered antigens. Cows naturally infected by BLV produced Igs with impaired structural or biological reactivity. The primary immune response was shown to be deficient in BLV-infected cows following vaccination with synthetic antigen. A marked shift in the proportion of PBL, especially of the CD5+ subset, was noticed. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from BLV-infected cows secrete elevated levels of certain cytokines and contain increased levels of cytokine mRNA. High levels of cytokines are also found in the sera of BLV-infected cows compared to non-infected animals. A correlation was found between BLV infection and lack of spontaneous recovery from Trichophyton verrucosum infection. Moreover, some studies ascertained a significant association between the herd BLV infection status and disease incidence. The culling rate was higher and milk production lower in BLV-infected vs. BLV-free herds. It seems that BLV infection affects the immune system of a cow to such an extent that it ceases to be productive enough to be kept and, in most cases, the animal is culled before any symptoms of illness associated with persistent immunodeficiency become apparent.

*Immune System/PATHOLOGY *Immune System/VIROLOGY *Leukemia Virus, Bovine/IMMUNOLOGY


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