ABSTRACT: Current on-farm methods for detecting mastitis in dairy cows have limitations with their specificity and sensitivity, particularly at an early stage of infection. There is therefore a need to explore new approaches for detecting early and subclinical mastitis. This study examined the expression of a group of neutrophil-specific proteins, the cathelicidins, in milk samples from naturally occurring as well as experimentally induced mastitis infections. Immunoblot analysis indicated that cathelicidin proteins are only observed in infected quarters and demonstrate a high correlation with somatic cell count (SCC) during the onset of infection. In most of the infections examined, cathelicidin was detected prior to the observation of clinical symptoms and at SCC counts as low as 6.2 × 10(3)cells/mL. In naturally occurring mastitis the correlation between cathelicidin and infection status is not as strong, with 25% of pathogen-positive milk samples containing no detectable cathelicidin. This may reflect the varying levels of neutrophil concentration and activity at different stages or severities of infection. Our results indicate that milk cathelicidin levels increase following intramammary infection and cathelicidin-based biomarkers may assist in the detection of preclinical mastitis or determining the stage of infection.
Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 09/2011; 143(1-2):125-30. · 2.08 Impact Factor