Cross-reactive responses elicited by exposure to nontuberculous mycobacteria often confound the interpretation of antemortem tests for Mycobacterium bovis infection of cattle. The use of specific proteins (e.g., ESAT-6, CFP-10, and MPB83), however, generally enhances the specificity of bovine tuberculosis tests. While genes for these proteins are absent from many nontuberculous mycobacteria, they are present in M. kansasii. Instillation of M. kansasii into the tonsillar crypts of calves elicited delayed-type hypersensitivity and in vitro gamma interferon and nitrite concentration responses of leukocytes to M. avium and M. bovis purified protein derivatives (PPDs). While the responses of M. kansasii-inoculated calves to M. avium and M. bovis PPDs were approximately equivalent, the responses of M. bovis-inoculated calves to M. bovis PPD exceeded their respective responses to M. avium PPD. The gamma interferon and nitrite responses of M. kansasii-inoculated calves to recombinant ESAT-6-CFP-10 (rESAT-6-CFP-10) exceeded corresponding responses of noninoculated calves as early as 15 and 30 days after inoculation, respectively, and persisted throughout the study. The gamma interferon and nitrite responses of M. bovis-inoculated calves to rESAT-6-CFP-10 exceeded the corresponding responses of M. kansasii-inoculated calves beginning 30 days after inoculation. By using a lipoarabinomannan-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, specific serum antibodies were detected as early as 50 days after challenge with M. kansasii. By a multiantigen print immunoassay and immunoblotting, serum antibodies to MPB83, but not ESAT-6 or CFP-10, were detected in M. kansasii-inoculated calves; however, responses to MPB83 were notably weaker than those elicited by M. bovis infection. These findings indicate that M. kansasii infection of calves elicits specific responses that may confound the interpretation of bovine tuberculosis tests
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