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Serological profiles in nursery piglets colonized with Staphylococcus aureus

Florence Crombé12*, Wannes Vanderhaeghen12, Corné P de Vogel3, Willem J Van Wamel3, Kurt Barbé4, Katleen Hermans2, Freddy Haesebrouck2 and Patrick Butaye12

Author Affiliations

1 Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (VAR), Department of Bacterial Diseases, Groeselenberg 99, Ukkel, Belgium

2 Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Salisburylaan 133, Merelbeke, 9820, Belgium

3 Erasmus Medical Centre, Departments of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, ‘s-Gravendijkwal 230, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

4 Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Faculty of Engeneering, Deptartment of fundamental electricity and instrumentation (ELEC), Pleinlaan 2, Brussels, Belgium

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Veterinary Research 2013, 44:4  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-44-4

Published: 22 January 2013


At present, the immune response of pigs in relation to Staphylococcus aureus carriage is poorly understood. This study was aimed at investigating the dynamics of the anti-staphylococcal humoral immune response in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA)-positive piglets and at assessing the effect of the experimental introduction of a methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) Sequence Type (ST) 398 strain. Therefore, serum samples were collected at different times from 31 weaned piglets originating from four different sows. Twenty-four out of the 31 piglets were challenged with MRSA ST398. The serum samples were analyzed for IgG antibodies to 39 S. aureus antigens, using a multiplex bead-based assay (xMAP technology, Luminex Corporation). Though antibody responses showed broad inter-individual variability, serological results appeared to be clustered by litter of origin. For most antigens, an age-related response was observed with an apparent increase in antibody titers directed against staphylococcal microbial surface components recognizing adhesive matrix molecules (MSCRAMM), which have been shown to play a role in S. aureus colonization. In most animals, antibody titers directed against staphylococcal toxins or immune-modulating proteins decreased with age, possibly reflecting the absence of bacterial invasion. The introduction of MRSA ST398 did not elicit a significant humoral immune reaction.

This study describes, for the first time, the humoral immune response in weaned pigs colonized with S. aureus.