To characterize the immune response associated with Lawsonia intracellularis infection, twenty-eight, 7-week-old pigs were dosed orally with a pure culture of L. intracellularis. Animals were killed 3, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 days postinfection. Light microscopic studies were undertaken to immunophenotype the immunologic response using specific antibodies to T-cell subsets (CD3, CD4, and CD8), B cells, major histocompatibility complex class II, cadherin, and macrophages over the course of time. The results indicate that there is a direct association between the presence of L. intracellularis and reduced T-cell and B-cell numbers. For the first time, this provides evidence of the presence of an immunosuppressive mechanism operating in this disease. Furthermore, macrophage marker studies indicated that macrophages may play a more complex and significant role in the disease process than has been previously reported, with activated macrophages accumulating in infected hyperplastic crypts.
- Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections
- Intestinal Diseases
- Lawsonia Bacteria
- Swine Diseases