Dissecting the early host response during pathogen-specific mastitis

The clinical picture of bovine mastitis is mostly related to the causative pathogen; however, the underlying reasons remain unclear. A deeper understanding of the pathogen-specific mechanisms leading to their divergent clinical pictures may be crucial in future for the development of new strategies for prophylaxis and therapy. One of the main research goals of Dr. Wolfram Petzl since 2003 has been to gain underpinning knowledge on the divergent pathophysiology of clinical and subclinical mastitis. Interdisciplinary research collaborations assembling the molecular basis of the early immune response during pathogen-specific mastitis formed the basis for a comprehensive view.

Dr. habil. Wolfram Petzl is senior researcher at the Clinic for Ruminants with Ambulatory and Herd Health Services at the Ludwig-Maxilians-Universität Munich, Germany

Bovine mastitis imposes major constraints on the dairy industry, affecting health and welfare, decreasing productivity and increasing production costs, as well as having an impact on public health through antibiotic usage and wastage. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) represent two highly important mastitis pathogens related to subclinical and clinical mastitis respectively. Their divergent clinical pictures of disease make them promising candidates for comparative studies about the early immune response in the udder.

The immune response during mastitis is double-edged
Mastitis is the inflammatory response towards intramammary infection (IMI). A complex course of pathophysiological events determines whether the outcome results in clinical or subclinical mastitis. To what extent an adequate immune response should rise remains ambivalent and has to be considered carefully from two points of view. Although a pronounced inflammatory response during clinical mastitis may more likely resolve an IMI, it holds the risk of adversely affecting the cow’s well-being and

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