A review of the infection, genetics, and evolution of Neospora caninum: from the past to the present

Publisher:
Elsevier
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 2013, 13 (1), pp. 133 - 150
Issue Date:
2013-01
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This paper is a review of current knowledge on Neospora caninum in the context of other apicomplexan parasites and with an emphasis on: life cycle, disease, epidemiology, immunity, control and treatment, evolution, genomes, and biological databases and web resources. N. caninum is an obligate, intracellular, coccidian, protozoan parasite of the phylum Apicomplexa. Infection can cause the clinical disease neosporosis, which most notably is associated with abortion in cattle. These abortions are a major root cause of economic loss to both the dairy and beef industries worldwide. N. caninum has been detected in every country in which a study has been specifically conducted to detect this parasite in cattle. The major mode of transmission in cattle is transplacental (or vertical) transmission and several elements of the N. caninum life cycle are yet to be studied in detail. The outcome of an infection is inextricably linked to the precise timing of the infection coupled with the status of the immune system of the dam and foetus. There is no community consensus as to whether it is the dams pro-inflammatory cytotoxic response to tachyzoites that kills the foetus or the tachyzoites themselves. From economic analysis the most cost-effective approach to control neosporosis is a vaccine. The perfect vaccine would protect against both infection and the clinical disease, and this implies a vaccine is needed that can induce a non-foetopathic cell mediated immunity response. Researchers are beginning to capitalise on the vast potential of -omics data (e.g. genomes, transcriptomes, and proteomes) to further our understanding of pathogens but especially to identify vaccine and drug targets. The recent publication of a genome for N. caninum offers vast opportunities in these areas.
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