Acute phase proteins (APPs) have been demonstrated to be useful in evaluating general health stress and diseases in cattle. Serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin (Hp) are APPs that are produced during inflammation, and likely play a role in host immunological defence against Eimeria infection and the associated intestinal tissue damage. We investigated the involvement of SAA and HP in an experimental study, including three groups of calves: a control group (group 0, n=11), and two groups infected with either 150,000 or 250,000 Eimeria zuernii oocysts (group 1 (n=11) and group 2 (n=12), respectively). The calves were monitored for 28 days and data was collected on oocyst excretion, faecal score, animal weight, and SAA and Hp serum concentrations. Generalized linear mixed models showed that the clinical symptoms, indicated by an increase in the number of oocysts in the faeces and severe diarrhoea, manifested at patency for group 1 and 2. Serum Hp and SAA levels also increased during this period. Hp appeared to be a more sensitive marker than SAA, and differences between groups 1 and 2 were observed only for Hp. Linear regression models showed a negative association between weight gain and Hp concentrations, calculated as the area under the curve (AUC) during the overall experimental period and the patency period. A similar result was seen for SAA only during the patency period. This result supports the assumption that reduced weight gain due to E. zuernii infection is an immunologically driven process that involves an increase in APPs. A random intercept regression model of oocyst shedding groups showed that calves shedding 1-500 oocysts had reduced concentrations of Hp, indicating that a different immunological reaction occurs during mild shedding of E. zuernii oocysts than during more intensive shedding. A similar model was used to examine associations between faecal scores and Hp concentrations for each group. Group 2 calves with haemorrhagic diarrhoea displayed higher Hp levels than calves in that group with lower faecal scores, which may be in response to an increased demand for Hp in the repair process as a result of haemolysis. APPs seem to play an important role in determining the course of E. zuernii infection in calves, which may enhance our understanding of the immunological reaction and development of this disease.
Lassen B, Bangoura B, Lepik T, Orro T. Systemic acute phase proteins response in calves experimentally infected with Eimeria zuernii. Vet Parasitol. 2015 Sep 15;212(3-4):140-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2015.06.024. Epub 2015 Jul 8.