The distribution of pepsinogen within the abomasa of cattle and sheep infected with Ostertagia spp. and sheep infected with Haemonchus contortus Academic Article uri icon


  • The effect of nematode infections on the production of pepsinogen by ruminants was investigated immunohistochemically and biochemically. Abomasal tissues were collected from parasite-naive cattle and sheep, from sheep infected with predominantly Ostertagia circumcincta, sheep infected experimentally with Haemonchus contortus and cattle infected with Ostertagia ostertagi. Pepsinogen was also assayed biochemically in homogenates of fundic mucosae from sheep infected with predominantly O. circumcincta. Infection with Ostertagia spp. parasites was associated mainly with nodular hyperplasia, resulting in increased numbers of cells that produce both pepsinogen and mucus. Measured biochemically, nodules contained more pepsinogen than adjacent more normal mucosa (p < 0.05), and this effect was largely attributable to the greater mass of nodules. Infection of sheep with H. contortus was associated with generalised hyperplasia, characterised by increased numbers of mucopeptic cells and in at least one animal with reductions in parietal cell numbers. At the same time, the zymogen granule content of chief cells was reduced. Similar changes were occasionally seen in sheep infected predominantly with O. circumcincta. Generalised hyperplasia is likely to be indicative of the presence of ambulatory parasitic stages as opposed to those confined to nodules. The potential for the enhanced production of pepsinogen by increased numbers of cells with a joint mucous cell and zymogenic cell phenotype may offset decreases in the numbers of chief cells or reductions in chief cell activity.


  • Scott, I
  • Dick, A
  • Irvine, J
  • Stear, MJ
  • McKellar, QA

publication date

  • March 1999