Immune mechanisms of pathogenetic synergy in concurrent bovine pulmonary infection with Haemophilus somnus and bovine respiratory syncytial virus

Laurel J Gershwin, Londa J. Berghaus, Karen Arnold, Mark L Anderson, Lynette B. Corbeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and Haemophilus somnus are two bovine respiratory pathogens that cause disease singly or as part of a polymicrobial infection. BRSV infection is often associated with a predisposition towards production of a T helper type 2 (Th2) response and IgE production. In contrast, an IgG2 response to H. somnus has been shown to be most important for recovery. An experiment was performed to evaluate the hypothesis that infection with H. somnus on day 6 of experimental BRSV infection would result in disease enhancement and potentially an altered immune response when compared with single infection. Three groups of calves were either dually infected or singly infected with H. somnus or BRSV. Serum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) pathogen specific IgG1, IgG2, IgE, and IgA responses were evaluated by ELISA. TaqMan RT-PCR was used to examine cytokine gene expression by PBMC and BAL cells. Clinical signs were evaluated for 28 days after BRSV infection, followed by necropsy and histological examination of the lungs. In dually infected calves, disease was significantly more severe, H. somnus was isolated from the lungs at necropsy, and high IgE and IgG responses were detected to H. somnus antigens. Cytokine profiles on day 27 were elevated in dually infected calves, but did not reflect a skewed profile. These results contrasted with singly infected calves that were essentially normal by day 10 of infection and lacked both lung pathology and the presence of H. somnus in the lung at necropsy. The increase in IgE antibodies specific for antigens of H. somnus presents a possible mechanism for pathogenesis of the disease enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2005



  • Bovine respiratory disease
  • BRSV
  • Haemophilus somnus
  • IgE
  • Polymicrobial disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)

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