Analysis of heavy-chain antibody responses and resistance to Parelaphostrongylus tenuis in experimentally infected alpacas

S. R. Purdy, L. F. Gagliardo, S. Lefman, P. J.S. Hamel, S. Ku, T. Mainini, G. Hoyt, K. Justus, L. P. Daley-Bauer, M. S. Duffy, J. A. Appleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The parasitic nematode Parelaphostrongylus tenuis is an important cause of neurologic disease of camelids in central and eastern North America. The aim of this study was to determine whether alpacas develop resistance to disease caused by P. tenuis in response to a previous infection or a combination of controlled infection and immunization. Alpacas were immunized with a homogenate of third-stage larvae (L3) and simultaneously implanted subcutaneously with diffusion chambers containing 20 live L3. Sham-treated animals received adjuvant alone and empty chambers. The protocol was not effective in inducing resistance to oral challenge with 10 L3, and disease developed between 60 and 71 days following infection. Immediately following the onset of neurologic disease, affected animals were treated with a regimen of anthelmintic and anti-inflammatory drugs, and all recovered. One year later, a subset of alpacas from this experiment was challenged with 20 L3 and the results showed that prior infection induced resistance to disease. Primary and secondary infections induced production of conventional and heavy-chain IgGs that reacted with soluble antigens in L3 homogenates but did not consistently recognize a recombinant form of a parasite-derived aspartyl protease inhibitor. Thus, the latter antigen may not be a good candidate for serology-based diagnostic tests. Antibody responses to parasite antigens occurred in the absence of overt disease, demonstrating that P. tenuis infection can be subclinical in a host that has been considered to be highly susceptible to disease. The potential for immunoprophylaxis to be effective in preventing disease caused by P. tenuis was supported by evidence of resistance to reinfection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1026
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Vaccine Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)


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