Immune responsiveness of the fetus and neonate

Bennie Osburn, R. D. Schultz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The placenta of the healthy cow is incapable of either active or passive transport of immunoglobulins to the fetal circulation. However, greater than 90% of fetuses from 235 days of gestation to birth had Ig in their serum probably stimulated by maternal, fetal and microbial antigens. The thymus and blood lymphocytes develop between day 40 and 50 and the spleen shortly afterwards. IgM containing cells can be found before day 60 and serum IgM by day 130. IgG appears by day 145. Significant Ig production is dependent on antigenic stimulation. Serum from fetal calves congenitally infected with blue tongue, BVD, Q fever, vibrio, chlamydial and epizootic bovine abortion organisms had elevated IgM and IgG levels. Assay of Ig levels is suggested as a valuable tool in diagnosis of congenital infection. Few studies on cellular immune mechanisms have been carried out during fetal life. Bovine fetus lymphocytes were found to respond to PHA from the earliest time tested of 200 days gestation. Plasma corticoid values are 2 to 5 times higher than prepartum fetal or adult values and may contribute to a depression of cell mediate immune reactivity. The possible role of complement components and interferon in fetuses is considered in relation to protection from bacterial and viral infections. (Weir - Edinburgh)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-806
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number7 II
StatePublished - Jan 1 1973
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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