New challenges for vaccination to prevent chlamydial abortion in sheep

Gary Entrican, Nick Wheelhouse, Sean R Wattegedera, David Longbottom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ovine enzootic abortion (OEA) is caused by the obligate intracellular Gram-negative bacterium Chlamydia abortus. OEA remains a common cause of infectious abortion in many sheep-rearing countries despite the existence of commercially available vaccines that protect against the disease. There are a number of confounding factors that influence the uptake and use of these vaccines, which includes an inability to discriminate between infected and vaccinated animals (DIVA) using conventional serological diagnostic techniques. This suggests that the immunity elicited by current vaccines is similar to that observed in convalescent, immune sheep that have experienced OEA. The existence of these vaccines provides an opportunity to understand how protection against OEA is elicited and also to understand why vaccines can occasionally appear to fail, as has been reported recently for OEA. Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), the cytokine that classically defines Th1-type adaptive immunity, is a strong correlate of protection against OEA in sheep and has been shown to inhibit the growth of C. abortus in vitro. Humoral immunity to C. abortus is observed in both vaccinated and naturally infected sheep, but antibody responses tend to be used more as diagnostic markers than targets for strategic vaccine design. A future successful DIVA vaccine against OEA should aim to elicit the immunological correlate of protection (IFN-γ) concomitantly with an antibody profile that is distinct from that of the natural infection. Such an approach requires careful selection of protective components of C. abortus combined with an effective delivery system that elicits IFN-γ-producing CD4+ve memory T cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-6
Number of pages6
JournalComparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Abortion, Veterinary
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Chlamydia
  • Chlamydia Infections
  • Female
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases
  • Vaccination


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