The aim of this study was to assess the effect of cross-fostering on transfer of maternal Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae-specific humoral and cell-mediated immunity (CMI) from gilts to piglets. Cross-fostering, carried out within gilt pairs, was based on the gilts' M hyopneumoniae vaccination status in accordance with the following scheme: six pairs of vaccinated gilt × non-vaccinated gilt (V × N); five pairs of non-vaccinated gilt × vaccinated gilt (N × V); and five pairs of vaccinated gilt × vaccinated gilt (V × V). The piglets were cross-fostered at 0, six, 12 or 20 hours after birth. Two piglets per gilt per time point were cross-fostered (that is, eight piglets per gilt were moved) and the remaining piglets served as non-cross-fostered controls. In addition, four litters served as non-cross-fostered controls. A maximum of 10 piglets per gilt were sampled. The piglets' M hyopneumoniae-specific humoral immunity was assessed by ELISA and their CMI was assessed by delayed-type hypersensitivity testing. M hyopneumoniae-specific antibodies were detected in non-cross-fostered piglets from vaccinated dams and from piglets cross-fostered within the V × N gilt pair at six hours or more, and within the V × V gilt pair at all time points. Piglets cross-fostered within the N × V gilt pair had detectable M hyopneumoniae-specific antibodies only if they had been moved within six hours of birth. The transfer of M hyopneumoniae-specific CMI to piglets appeared to be source-dependent, and was detected only in piglets maintained on their vaccinated dams for at least 12 hours after birth.
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