Association of immune responses of Zebu and Holstein-Friesian cattle and resistance to mycobacteria in a BCG challenge model
Mycobacterium bovis is the main cause of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) in cattle and can also infect humans. Zebu cattle are considered more resistant to some infectious diseases compared with Holstein-Friesian (HF) cattle, including BTB. However, epidemiological studies may not take into account usage differences of the two types of cattle. HF cattle may suffer greater metabolic stress due to their more or less exclusive dairy use, whereas Zebu cattle are mainly used for beef production. In experiments conducted so far, the number of animals has been too small to draw statistically robust conclusions on the resistance differences between these cattle breeds. Here, we used a BCG challenge model to compare the ability of naïve and vaccinated Zebu and HF cattle to control/kill mycobacteria. Young cattle of both breeds with similar ages were housed in the same accommodation for the duration of the experiment. After correcting for multiple comparisons, we found no difference between naïve HF and Zebu (ρ = 0.862) cattle. However, there was a trend for vaccinated HF cattle to have lower cfu numbers than non-vaccinated HF cattle (ρ = 0.057); no such trend was observed between vaccinated and non-vaccinated Zebu cattle (ρ = 0.560). Evaluation of antigen-specific IFNγ secretion by PBMC indicated that Zebu and HF cattle differed in their response to mycobacteria. Thus, whilst there may be difference in immune responses, our data indicate that with the number of animals included in the study and under the conditions used in this work, we were unable to measure any differences between Zebu and HF cattle in the overall control of mycobacteria. Whilst determination of different susceptibilities between Zebu and HF cattle using the BCG challenge model will require larger numbers of animals than the number of animals used in this experiment, these data should inform future experiments.