Longitudinal evaluation of humoral immune response and merozoite surface antigen diversity in calves naturally infected with Babesia bovis, in São Paulo, Brazil

<div><p>Abstract Babesiosis is an economically important infectious disease affecting cattle worldwide. In order to longitudinally evaluate the humoral immune response against Babesia bovis and the merozoite surface antigen diversity of B. bovis among naturally infected calves in Taiaçu, Brazil, serum and DNA samples from 15 calves were obtained quarterly, from their birth to 12 months of age. Anti-B. bovis IgG antibodies were detected by means of the indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to investigate the genetic diversity of B. bovis, based on the genes that encode merozoite surface antigens (MSA-1, MSA-2b and MSA-2c). The serological results demonstrated that up to six months of age, all the calves developed active immunity against B. bovis. Among the 75 DNA samples evaluated, 2, 4 and 5 sequences of the genes msa-1, msa-2b and msa-2c were obtained. The present study demonstrated that the msa-1 and msa-2b genes sequences amplified from blood DNA of calves positive to B. bovis from Taiaçu were genetically distinct, and that msa-2c was conserved. All animals were serologically positive to ELISA and IFAT, which used full repertoire of parasite antigens in despite of the genetic diversity of MSAs.</p></div>