The influence of protein supplementation on the immune response to Haemonchus contortus Academic Article uri icon


  • A major protective mechanism in lambs against the abomasal parasite Ostertagia (Teladorsagia) circumcincta appears to be the immunoglubulin (Ig)A-mediated suppression of worm growth and fecundity. The present study indicates that IgA may play a similar role in the control of another abomasal parasite Haemonchus contortus. Hampshire Down lambs were offered one of two diets: (i) a basal diet and (ii) a diet supplemented with additional protein. Lambs were then 'trickle' infected with H. contortus and killed 10 weeks after the start of infection. Those lambs on the supplemented diet had shorter adult worms and produced significantly more antiparasite IgA. There was a significant association between reduced female adult worm length and increased IgA against third-stage larvae. Most of the difference between the two groups in worm length could be accounted for by differences in IgA responses. Therefore, IgA may be the major mechanism controlling fecundity of H. contortus and the magnitude of the IgA response is influenced by the quality of the diet.

publication date

  • October 2001