Evaluation of the gamma interferon test for diagnosis of paratuberculosis in goats

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2005 Aug 15;107(1-2):87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2005.03.015.


The gamma interferon assay was evaluated for diagnosis of paratuberculosis in goats with special emphasis on false positive reactions. Four categories of herds were tested: (A) herds that had a history of paratuberculosis, had given positive Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis fecal samples and were vaccinated against paratuberculosis; (B) herds that had been vaccinated but had never shown clinical signs of paratuberculosis nor given positive M. a. paratuberculosis fecal samples; and (C) non-vaccinated herds without paratuberculosis. To extend the analysis of samples from young goats free of paratuberculosis, animals less than 18 months of age from non-vaccinated herds without paratuberculosis, category D, were included. Heparinized blood was stimulated with purified protein derivate (PPD) from M. a. paratuberculosis for 24 h and plasma was assayed for the presence of gamma interferon. Results were recorded as the difference between OD values of PPD stimulated and control samples. Vaccinated animals from herds with paratuberculosis, category A, showed significant higher gamma interferon responses than animals from vaccinated herds without paratuberculosis, category B. In both these groups the responses were correlated to age with higher responses in younger animals. Some of the vaccinated animals in herds without paratuberculosis had a gamma interferon response lasting for several years, which demonstrate a long lasting interference with diagnostic testing in vaccinated goats. Only three of the 121 non-vaccinated animals free of paratuberculosis in category C had responses against PPD (corrected OD values at 0.2, 0.24 and 0.5), and none of the 255 young animals in category D had corrected OD values exceeding 0.2. This indicates that false positive reactions do not appear to the same extent in young goats as in young cattle. We conclude that the low responses of non-infected goats could make the gamma interferon assay useful in monitoring the paratuberculosis status of non-vaccinated herds. However, more information about the early gamma interferon responses of naturally infected goats and the presence of false negative samples are needed.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Goat Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Goat Diseases / immunology
  • Goats
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Male
  • Paratuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Paratuberculosis / immunology
  • Tuberculin / pharmacology
  • Typhoid-Paratyphoid Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Vaccination


  • Tuberculin
  • Typhoid-Paratyphoid Vaccines
  • Interferon-gamma