Objective - To characterize the antigen-specific immune response to dietary proteins in cats and evaluate whether there was a qualitative or quantitative difference between the responses to dietary proteins when those proteins were fed unprocessed or as part of a canned diet. Animals - 14 healthy domestic shorthair cats. Procedure - Cats were fed 2 dietary proteins (soy and casein) either as unprocessed aqueous suspensions or as part of canned diets for 21 days. Serum IgG and IgA and salivary IgA were assayed by indirect ELISA, and antigen-specific proliferation of mesenteric lymph node-derived lymphocytes was determined. Results - Robust serum IgG and IgA responses to dietary proteins were elicited, irrespective of the form in which they were fed. Salivary IgA responses to unprocessed proteins were not detected. However, a significant salivary IgA response to the protein isolated from the canned casein diet was observed in cats fed canned casein but not in those fed unprocessed casein. Lymphocyte proliferation to the antigens was slight, and there were no significant differences between groups. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Results indicated that cats develop robust serum IgG and IgA responses to dietary proteins when fed as either aqueous suspensions or as part of canned diets. For certain proteins, there may be an increase and a qualitative difference in the immunogenicity of canned diets, compared with unprocessed proteins. Canned diets may not be ideal for management of cats with enteritis.
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