Haematopoietic depletion in vaccine-induced neonatal pancytopenia depends on both the titre and specificity of alloantibody and levels of MHC I expression.
A haemorrhagic diathesis has been observed in young calves since 2007 which is described as bovine neonatal pancytopenia (BNP) and presents a completely new disease. The objectives of our investigation were to test if BNP could be reproduced using colostrum of cows with a BNP history and pre-colostral calves from farms where BNP has not been observed. In the present experiment, 22 German Holstein calves from BNP-free farms were fed four to six hours after birth 2.5 l colostrum from cows which had been reported to have had at least one calf with BNP in the last lactation. We distinguished three different experimental groups according to the composition of the colostrum. In experimental group I, each of the six calves received colostrum of a single cow, in experimental group II all six calves received colostrum from the same cow and in experimental group III each of the ten calves received a colostrum mix from ten different cows. Clinical signs of BNP were observed in 50% of the calves in experimental group I, 67% of the calves in experimental group II and all calves in experimental group III. The lethality in the three experimental groups was significantly different with rates of 16.7%, 66.7% and 80%, respectively. Calves fed with a colostrum-mix in experimental group III had the highest lethality. Neither the farm nor the amount of the colostrum fed had a significant effect on the occurrence and course of BNP. The profiles for thrombocytes, leucocytes and erythrocytes significantly differed in dependence of the severity of BNP signs. Calves with non-lethal BNP showed thrombocytopenia with values below 100 G/l on the 1th to 3rd and the 7th to 11th day of life. In calves with lethal BNP, thrombocytes decreased under 50 G/l from day 5. In calves with non-lethal BNP, a decrease of the leucocytes under the threshold was present only for a short period of time. In calves with lethal BNP, leucocytes decreased in the first 5 days after birth continuously and increased on the 6th to the 8th day to normal values and then a rapid decrease occurred. Erythrocytes decreased under the normal threshold just in the last two days before the calves died or were euthanized. Thus, the present experiments showed that colostrum of cows with a BNP-history and vaccination with PregSure BVD from Pfizer caused lethal BNP. We can assume that the different reactions of the calves are due to immunogenetic reactions to colostral alloreactive antibodies. The reaction spectrum of calves depends on the presence of antigens which can react with these colostral antibodies. The experimental results can explain the different incidences of BNP within and among farms as well as between breeds.