Interferon-gamma and interleukin 4 gene expression in cows infected with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis

Am J Vet Res. 1998 Jul;59(7):842-7.


Objective: To determine whether clinical progression of paratuberculosis in cattle was associated with alterations in cytokine gene expression in affected tissues.

Animals: 5 uninfected adult Holstein cows, 7 adult Holstein cows naturally infected with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis that did not have clinical signs of disease, and 4 adult Holstein cows naturally infected with M paratuberculosis that had progressive clinical signs of infection.

Procedure: Samples of ileum and cecal lymph nodes were obtained from each animal at the time of slaughter. A reverse transcriptase-competitive polymerase chain reaction assay was used to determine mRNA expression of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin 4 in each sample.

Results: Interferon-gamma gene expression was significantly higher in ileum and cecal lymph node samples from subclinically infected cows than from clinically infected cows.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Progression of paratuberculosis to clinical stages is associated with reduced expression of IFN-gamma at site of infection. If immune response to M paratuberculosis can be manipulated so that IFN-gamma expression is increased, resistance to infection in cattle might be enhanced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / immunology*
  • Cecum
  • DNA Primers
  • Female
  • Ileum
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics*
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics*
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis
  • Paratuberculosis / immunology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Reference Values
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA Primers
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma