Theileria parva is the causal agent of East Coast fever (ECF), a fatal disease of cattle characterized by pyrexia, transient lymphadenopathy and panleukopenia. We have evaluated monoclonal antibodies (mAb) against three distinct antigens (p67, PIM and p32) of the parasite as immunohistological reagents for monitoring the kinetics of infection in cattle. Bovine lymphocytes were stained with the mAb at various intervals after infection in vitro and in vivo. The p67 sporozoite surface antigen was detected in only a small percentage of both, in vitro and in vivo infected cells. In contrast, expression of the polymorphic immunodominant molecule (PIM) of the parasite proved a useful indicator of infection and staining was correlated with the results of Giemsa analysis. PIM was detected from day 3 in in vitro-infected cells, but was not detected until day 5 in vivo after challenge with a 70% lethal dose of stabilized sporozoite. The p32 antigen was expressed only late in infection in vivo and its expression was associated with the development of merozoites. Less than 20% of in vitro-infected cells expressed p32. The immunohistochemical staining with anti-PIM mAb was found to be a useful tool for analysis of T. parva infection kinetics in cattle. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.
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