n Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research - The haematological, proinflammatory cytokines and IgG changes during an ovine experimental theileriosis - original research

Volume 86 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0030-2465
  • E-ISSN: 2219-0635



Malignant ovine theileriosis is caused by Theileria lestoquardi, which is highly pathogenic in sheep. Theileriosis involves different organs in ruminants. Little is known about the role of proinflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of T. lestoquardi infection. The aim of this study was to measure concentration changes of proinflammatory cytokines and immunoglobulin G (IgG) during an ovine experimental theileriosis and correlate it with clinical and haematological parameters. During an experimental study, seven healthy Baluchi sheep (four females and three males) about 6–8 months old were infected with T. lestoquardi by feeding of infected unfed ticks on the sheep’s ears. The infected sheep were clinically examined during the study and blood samples were collected on days 0, 2, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17 and 21. The haematological parameters were analysed by an automatic veterinary haematology cell counter and the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and IgG were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. All infected sheep had temperatures above 40 °C on days 3–4 post infection (PI). The maximum temperature was noted on day 7, and it remained high until day 21. The parasitaemia of T. lestoquardi infection increased from 0.01% (day 7 PI) to 3.3% (day 21 PI). The mean white blood cell (WBC), red blood cell (RBC), lymphocyte, neutrophil and platelet values slightly increased on day 2 PI and decreased by day 17 and day 21 PI. The percentage parasitaemia and fever had a negative correlation with the numbers of WBCs, RBCs, lymphocytes, neutrophils and platelets. The serum concentration of IL-6, TNF-α and IFN-γ cytokines increased and peaked on day 12 and thereafter decreased to levels lower than 0. Out of all tested cytokines, the concentration of IL-6 was significantly higher, as early as day 2 PI. No significant changes were observed for the IgG levels during the course of disease. A significant and strong correlation was observed between IL-6, TNF-α and IFN-γ values and a moderate correlation between IL-6 and the numbers of lymphocytes in the present study. A strong correlation was determined between the percentage parasitaemia and haematological parameters in T. lestoquardi-infected sheep. In addition, preliminary results indicate that the measurement of the serum concentrations of IL-6 in combination with haematological parameters could be considered a good marker to estimate the pathogenicity of T. lestoquardi strain.

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