Detection of colostrum-derived alloantibodies in calves with bovine neonatal pancytopenia

Bovine neonatal pancytopenia (BNP) is an emerging calf disease of unknown cause characterized by a pronounced susceptibility to bleeding as a result of a pancytopenia and bone marrow depletion. In this study we investigated whether this phenomenon is related to colostrum-derived alloantibodies directed against neonatal leukocytes. In a first experiment and using a flow cytometric approach sera from 6 BNP-dams (had given birth to BNP-calves; vaccinated against bovine viral diarrhea virus [BVDV]) and 6 control-dams (no herd history of BNP: no BVDV vaccination) were analyzed for the presences of alloantibodies (IgG) able to bind to the surface of leukocytes isolated from 7 calves from a herd with no history of BNP (no BVDV vaccination). In a second experiment, 4 neonates from 3 BNP-dams were fed colostrum from their corresponding mothers and sampled on a regular basis from birth up to day 21 of life under clinically controlled conditions. Sample analysis of the 4 neonates included hematology (white blood cell count and platelets), bone marrow cytology and histopathology as well as the flow cytometric detection of the percentage of IgG()-Iymphocytes/monocytes in the peripheral blood. Experiment #1 showed that all BNP-dam sera harbored significantly higher alloantibody titers than the control dam sera (p < 0.001). In the peripheral blood of the two neonates (Experiment #2), the percentage of IgG()-cells increased dramatically within 12 h post colostrum intake (p.c.i.), remaining at over 95% for up to 3 days. Both calves developed BNP-associated clinical symptoms, one died. Both twin calves showed no clinical symptoms accompanied by a minor increase of IgG() cells for up to 12 h. Thus, the level of IgG()-cells and the duration of the detection thereof correlated with the severity of BNP developed by these animals. The results show that BNP-dams harbor alloantibodies against surface antigens of neonatal leukocytes in their sera that are readily transferred to the offspring via colostrum. These alloantibodies probably play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of BNP. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved



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