Maternal antibody blocks humoral but not T cell responses to BVDV

Janice J. Endsley, James A. Roth, Julia Ridpath, John Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) contributes significantly to health-related economic losses in the beef and dairy industry. Antibodies of maternal origin can be protective against BVDV infection, however, calves with low titres of maternal antibody or that do not receive colostrum may be at risk for acute BVDV infection. Interference by high titres of maternal antibodies prevents the development of an antibody response following vaccination with either a killed or attenuated BVDV vaccine. However, the T cell mediated immune response to BVDV may be generated in the absence of a detectable serum neutralizing antibody response. Two trials were conducted to evaluate the potential to elicit T cell mediated immune responses to BVDV in calves with circulating maternal antibody to BVDV. In the first trial, calves with high levels of circulating maternal antibody to BVDV 1 and BVDV 2 were experimentally infected with BVDV 2 (strain 1373) at two to five weeks of age. The T-cell mediated immune responses of the experimentally infected calves and non-infected calves were monitored monthly until circulating maternal antibody was no longer detectable in either treatment group. Calves experimentally infected with BVDV developed BVDV specific CD4+, CD8+, and δ T cell responses while high levels of maternal antibody were circulating. A second challenge with BVDV 2 (strain 1373) was performed in the experimentally infected and control calves once maternal antibody could no longer be detected. Previous exposure to BVDV in the presence of maternal antibody protected calves from clinical signs of acute BVDV infection compared to the control calves. In the second trial, three groups of calves with circulating maternal antibody to BVDV were given either a modified live vaccine (MLV) containing BVDV 1 and BVDV 2, a killed vaccine containing BVDV 1 and BVDV 2, or no vaccine, at seven weeks of age. Serum neutralizing antibody levels and antigen specific T cell responses were monitored for 14 weeks following vaccination. Calves vaccinated with MLV BVDV developed BVDV 1 and BVDV 2 specific CD4+T cell responses, and BVDV 2 specific γδ T cell responses, in the presence of maternal antibody. Vaccination with killed BVDV did not result in the generation of measurable antigen specific T cell immune responses. In this trial, a second vaccination was performed at 14 weeks to determine whether an anamnestic antibody response could be generated when calves were vaccinated in the presence of maternal antibody. Calves vaccinated with either a MLV or killed BVDV vaccine while they had maternal antibody developed an anamnestic antibody response to BVDV 2 upon subsequent vaccination. The results of these trials indicate that vaccinating young calves against BVD while maternal antibody is present may generate BVDV specific memory T and B cells. The data also demonstrated that seronegative calves with memory T and B cells specific for BVDV may be immune to challenge with virulent BVDV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-125
Number of pages3
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • BVDV
  • Maternal antibody
  • T lymphocyte subsets
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Pharmacology


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