Cell-mediated immune responses differentiate infections with Brucella suis from Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O : 9 in pigs

Ulla Riber, Gregers Jungersen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Due to almost identical lipopolysaccharide (LPS) O-antigens, infections with Yersinia enterocolitica serotype 0:9 (YeO:9) cause false positive serological reactions (FPSR) in tests for Brucella and thus cause problems in National Brucella surveillance programs. As LPS are strong inducers of antibody responses it was hypothesized that cell-mediated immune responses to non-LPS antigens of the two bacteria can be used to separate immune responses to these two biologically very different infections. Following subclinical experimental infections with Brucella suis biovar 2, high interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) assay responses with a commercial Brucella melitensis antigen preparation (Brucellergene OCB) preceded the development of antibodies. High IFN-gamma responses in the seven B. suis inoculated pigs with serological evidence of infection were consistent throughout a 20-week postinoculation observation period. In contrast, IFN-gamma responses in two B. suis inoculated pigs without bacteriological or scrological evidence of infection were below a cut-point of 25 pg/ml at all samplings. IFN-gamma responses in repeated samplings from 5 uninfected control pigs and 18 pigs experimentally infected with YeO:9 were all negative, except for solitary false positives in 3.7% of the samples from both the experimentally YeO:9 infected pigs and control pigs. Skin tests using the same commercial Brucella antigen confirmed the ability of cell-mediated immune responses to differentiate between the two infections. In addition, a field evaluation of the diagnostic use of cell-mediated immune responses by IFN-gamma assay and skin test to resolve serological suspicions of Brucella was conducted in an YeO:9 infected pig herd. Following a screening of 200 pigs 39 pigs were identified with false positive serological Brucellosis reactions. While 36 of the 39 FPSR pigs were also FPSR in a second test, none of the pigs were test positive in whole blood IFN-gamma assay or Brucellergene OCB skin test. In conclusion, use of IFN-gamma assay and skin test as measurements of cell-mediated immune responses to non-LPS Brucella antigens were specific and sensitive in discriminating subelinical experimental infections with B. suis from both natural and experimental infections with YeO:9.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
    Issue number1-2
    Pages (from-to)13-25
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • skin test
    • Brucella
    • flow cytometry
    • IFN-gamma assay
    • swine

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