Rechallenge of previously-infected pregnant ewes with Chlamydophila abortus

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In an attempt to ascertain the means whereby previous exposure to Chlamydophila (C.) abortus can protect against the re-occurrence of enzootic abortion of ewes (EAE), ten previously-exposed ewes were intravenously rechallenged with a large infective dose of C. abortus during pregnancy. The patterns of development of chlamydial placentitis and its sequelae closely resembled that observed following first-time challenge of previously-naïve ewes, although placentitis appeared to develop more slowly following rechallenge infection and none of the rechallenged ewes aborted. Chorioallantoic and foetal pathology and foetal immune responses were qualitatively similar whilst the local maternal response to C. abortus infection of the endometrium did not appear to differ in rechallenged and first-time challenged sheep. This demonstrates that if C. abortus reaches the foetal side of the placenta, a stereotypical response is elicited, regardless of the status of maternal immunity. Therefore it appears that in natural circumstances, acquired immunity of the dam protects against the re-occurrence of EAE by preventing the causative agent from reaching the susceptible foetal trophoblast.

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