Sarcocystis neurona-Specific Immunoglobulin G in the Serum and Cerebrospinal Fluid of Horses Administered S neurona Vaccine

Sharon Witonsky, Jennifer K. Morrow, Clare Leger, John Dascanio, Virginia Buechner-Maxwell, Wally Palmer, Kristen Kline, Anne Cook

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21 Scopus citations


A vaccine against Sarcocystis neurona, which induces equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), has received conditional licensure in the United States. A major concern is whether the immunoglobulin G (IgG) response elicited by the vaccine will compromise the use of Western blotting (WB) as a diagnostic tool in vaccinated horses with neurologic disease. Our goals were to determine if vaccination (1) causes seroconversion; (2) causes at least a transient increase in S newrona-specific IgG in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); and (3) induces an IgG response that can be differentiated from that induced by natural exposure. Horses included in the study (n = 29) were older than 6 months with no evidence of neurologic disease. The presence or absence of anti-S neurona antibodies in the serum of each horse was determined by WB analysis. Seropositive horses had CSF collected and submitted for cytology, CSF index, and WB analysis. The vaccine was administered to all the horses and boostered 3-4 weeks later. On day 14 after the 2nd administration, serum and CSF were collected and analyzed. Eighty-nine percent (8 of 9) of the initial seronegative horses seroconverted after vaccination, of which 57% (4 of 7) had anti-S neurona IgG in their CSF. Eighty percent (16 of 20) of the seropositive horses had an increase in serum S neurona IgG after vaccination. Of the 6 of 20 horses that were initially seropositive/CSF negative, 2 were borderline positive for anti-S neurona IgG in the CSF, 2 tested positive, and 2 were excluded because the CSF sample had been contaminated by blood. There were no WB banding patterns that distinguished samples from horses that seroconverted due to vaccination versus natural exposure. Caution must be used in interpreting WB analysis from neurologic horses that have been recently vaccinated for EPM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Equine
  • Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis
  • Immunology


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