Towards establishing a rhinoceros-specific interferon-gamma (IFN-y) assay for diagnosis of tuberculosis

D. Morar, J. Schreuder, M. Meny, P.J. Kooten, E. Tijhaar, A.L. Michel, V.P.M.G. Rutten

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Mycobacterium bovis is the causal agent of bovine tuberculosis (BTB), with a diverse host range, extending from livestock to domestic and captive wild animals as well as free-ranging wildlife species. In South Africa, BTB is endemic in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and the Hluluwe iMfolozi National Park (HiP), where the high prevalence of M. bovis infections in buffalo herds has led to infection of a number of wildlife species. This has raised concerns about the spillover into the rhinoceros population, a species known to be susceptible to both M. bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, jeopardizing breeding and relocation projects that serve to conserve and protect this species. In view of the advantages of the interferon-gamma (IFN-¿) assay in the diagnosis of BTB in a variety of species worldwide, such an assay has been developed for rhinoceroses by Morar and co-workers in 2007. In this study, this assay was optimized using recombinant eukaryotic rhinoceros IFN-¿ and the lower detection limit was calculated to be 0.5 ng/ml. Subsequently, assessing the detection of native rhinoceros IFN-¿ protein in whole-blood samples revealed stimulation with each of the mitogens: pokeweed (PWM), phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) & phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and calcium ionophore (PMA/CaI), though most prominently with the latter two. In addition, samples collected from 52 clinically healthy rhinoceroses, of presumed negative BTB status, from two different areas in South Africa were used to determine the cut-off value for a negative test result. This was calculated to be 0.10 (OD490 nm) and as determined in this study is a preliminary recommendation based on IFN-¿ responses observed in samples from BTB-free rhinoceroses only.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-66
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Issue numbers1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • mycobacterium-bovis bcg
  • kruger-national-park
  • african buffalo
  • cattle
  • infection
  • esat-6
  • tests
  • cocktails
  • antigens
  • cfp-10

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