Altered immune responses to a heterologous protein in ponies with heavy gastrointestinal parasite burdens

J. D. Edmonds, D. W. Horohov, M. R. Chapman, S. S. Pourciau, K. Antoku, K. Snedden, T. R. Klei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study was performed to test the hypothesis that immunity to heterologous vaccination would improve when the parasites were removed. It was also expected that parasitised ponies would exhibit a biased Th2 cytokine response to KLH immunisation. Helminth parasites are common in horses even in the era of highly effective broad-spectrum antiparasiticides. These parasites have been shown to alter the outcome to heterologous immunisation in a number of host species. The effect of gastrointestinal parasites on heterologous vaccination has not been addressed in equids. In the current study, humoral, lymphoproliferative, and cytokine responses to a single i.m. injection of keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) were compared between groups of ponies with high, medium or low gastrointestinal parasite burdens. Antibody levels determined by ELISA showed that animals with low levels of parasites had a trend toward increased KLH specific total immunoglobulin, IgG(T) and IgA compared to heavily parasitised ponies. Medium and heavily parasitised ponies demonstrated a trend toward reduced lymphoproliferative response to KLH that was not restored after the addition of interleukin-2 (Il-2). Cells from these ponies also produced significantly lower levels of IL-4 compared to lightly parasitised ponies. These data indicate that heavily parasitised ponies have uniformly decreased cellular and humoral immune responses to soluble protein immunisation. The mechanisms involved may have potential deleterious effects on standard vaccine protocols of parasitised equines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-663
Number of pages6
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2001


  • Cyathostomes
  • Heterologous immunisation
  • Horse
  • Immunity
  • KLH
  • Strongyle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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