Use of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to measure bovine milk and serum antibodies to alpha toxin, beta toxin, and capsular antigens of Staphylococcus aureus

D A Loeffler, N L Norcross
Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 1987, 14 (2): 145-56
An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) procedure was used to quantitate milk and serum antibodies (IgG) to Staphylococcus aureus alpha and beta toxins, and S. aureus 2-8 and Smith diffuse strain capsular antigens. Milk samples were collected on two occasions. A comparison was made between levels of milk antibodies specific for the two toxins and capsular antigens for 41 cows that were infected with S. aureus on both sampling dates, and 18 cows not S. aureus-infected on either date. Staphylococcus aureus-infected cows were grouped according to somatic cell counts. All groups of infected cows, regardless of somatic cell counts, had significantly higher milk antibody levels to alpha and beta toxins than did the non-infected cows (P less than .002). Serum samples taken for 13 infected and 4 non-infected cows also indicated that significant elevations in anti-alpha toxin and anti-beta toxin IgG were present in S. aureus-infected cows, compared to non-infected cows. A similar immune response was not seen to capsular antigens, however. No significant differences were present between the two groups of cows for either milk or serum antibodies to Smith diffuse strain capsular antigens. Milk antibodies to 2-8 capsule were significantly elevated only in infected cows with somatic cell counts greater than 10(6)/ml, compared to non-infected cows; no differences were present for serum antibodies to 2-8 capsule between infected and non-infected cows. These results indicate that significant increases in milk (and possibly serum) antibodies to alpha and beta toxins are present in cows with chronic staphylococcal mastitis, apparently resulting from a systemic immune response to these toxins. There does not appear to be a similar immune response to capsular antigens.


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