© 2017 Neospora caninum is a protozoan parasite with a preference for cattle and dogs as hosts. When N. caninum infection occurs in cattle it induces abortion, bovine neosporosis being a main cause of abortion worldwide. In dairy cattle, the economic burden of neosporosis-associated abortion is so great that it might results in closure of a farm. However, not all infected cows abort and it is not yet understood why this occurs. At present there is no effective treatment or vaccine. This review provides insights on how immune response against the parasite determines protection or contribution to abortion. Aspects on markers of risk of abortion are also discussed. Humoral immune responses are not protective against N. caninum but seropositivity and antibody level can be good markers for a diagnosis of bovine neosporosis and its associated abortion risk. In addition, humoral mechanisms against N. caninum infection and abortion differ in pure-breed and cross-breed pregnant dairy and beef cattle. Concentrations of Pregnancy Associated glycoprotein -2 (PAG-2) can also be used to predict abortion. A partially protective immune response encompasses increased IFN-γ expression, which has to be counterbalanced by other cytokines such as IL-12 and IL-10, especially towards the end of pregnancy. Although IFN-γ is required to limit parasite proliferation a critical threshold of the IFN-γ response is also required to limit adverse effects on pregnancy. In clinical terms, it may be stated that IFN-γ production and cross-breed pregnancy can protect Neospora-infected dairy cows against abortion.
- Cattle abortion
- Humoral and cellular immune responses
- Neospora caninum