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A preliminary study to evaluate the immune responses induced by immunization of dogs with inactivated Ehrlichia canis organisms

Sunita Mahan, P.J. Kelly, S.M. Mahan

Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research; Vol 72, No 2 (2005), 119-128. doi: 10.4102/ojvr.v72i2.207

Submitted: 15 September 2005
Published:  17 September 2005


Ehrlichia canis is an intracellular pathogen that causes canine monocytic ehrlichiosis. Although the role of antibody responses cannot be discounted, control of this intracellular pathogen is expected to be by cell mediated immune responses. The immune responses in dogs immunized with inactivated E. canis organisms in combination with Quil A were evaluated. Immunization provoked strong humoral and cellular immune responses, which were demonstrable by Western blotting and lymphocyte proliferation assays. By Western blotting antibodies to several immunodominant E. canis proteins were detected in serum from immunized dogs and antibody titres increased after each immunization. The complement of immunogenic proteins recognized by the antisera were similar to those recognized in serum from infected dogs. Upon challenge with live E. canis, rapid anamnestic humoral responses were detected in the serum of immunized dogs and primary antibody responses were detected in the serum from control dogs. Following immunization, a lymphocyte proliferative response (cellular immunity) was detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNs) of immunized dogs upon stimulation with E. canis antigens. These responses were absent from non-immunized control dogs until after infection with live E. canis, when antigen specific-lymphocyte proliferation responses were also detected in the PBMNs of the control dogs. It can be thus concluded that immunization against canine monocytic ehrlichiosis may be feasible. However, the immunization regimen needs to be optimized and a detailed investigation needs to be done to determine if this regimen can prevent development of acute and chronic disease.

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Author affiliations

Sunita Mahan,
P.J. Kelly,
S.M. Mahan,



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ISSN: 0030-2465 (print) | ISSN: 2219-0635 (online)

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