© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. In the present study, IFN-γ (Th1), IL-17 A (Th17) and IL-4 (Th2) concentrations in response to concanavalin (ConA) and Neospora caninum antigen (Nc-1) stimulation were determined in cultures of cells from control uninfected (n = 4), naturally N. caninum-infected (n = 3) and experimentally N. caninum-infected (n = 6) pregnant dams and their foetuses. Experimental animals were infected at 110 days of gestation and euthanized 6 weeks post-infection. In culture supernatants from the dams, significantly higher IFN-γ and IL-4 levels were found in the experimentally-infected animals compared to the control or naturally-infected dams. However, among the experimentally-infected dams no significant differences in IFN-γ production were observed regardless of the incidence of live or aborted/dead foetuses, though spleen cultures of dams carrying live foetuses showed the highest levels of IFN-γ. IL-17A production was very low and occasional in the dams infected with N. caninum and did not seem to be a major regulator of IFN-γ production in this model. Experimentally infected dams with live foetuses showed higher IL-4 levels and accordingly IFN-γ/IL-4 ratios were significantly lower than ratios recorded for cows with aborted/dead foetuses. In the infected foetuses of these dams, only spleen cultures showed high levels of IFN-γ and IL-4 after Nc-1 antigen and ConA stimulation, respectively. No IL-17A was detected in the foetuses. As conclusion, although we could not clearly relate a protective immune response against N. caninum abortion only to IFN-γ levels in cell cultures, our results highlight the important role of an inverse IFN-γ/IL-4 balance in conferring protection against abortion induced by this parasite.
- Experimental and natural infection
- IFN-γ, IL-17A and IL-4 levels
- Neospora caninum
- Pregnant dams
- Viable and aborted foetuses