Paratuberculosis represents a major problem in farmed ruminants and at the present is considered a potential zoonosis. The disease is caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, and susceptibility to infection is suspected to have a genetic component. Caspase recruitment domain 15 (CARD15) gene encodes for a cytosolic protein implicated in bacterial recognition during innate immunity. Crohn's disease (CD) is an idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease in humans comparable in many features to bovine paratuberculosis involving an abnormal mucosal immune response. The association between mutations in the CARD15 gene and increased risk of Crohn's disease has been described. The objective of this candidate gene case-control study was to characterize the distribution of three polymorphisms in the bovine CARD15 gene and test their association with paratuberculosis infection in cattle. Three previously reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (E2[-32] intron 1; 2197/C733R and 3020/Q1007L) were screened for the study population (431 adult cows). The statistical analysis resulted in significant differences in allelic frequencies between cases and controls for SNP2197/C733R (P < 0.001), indicating a significant association between infection and variant allele. In the analysis of genotypes, a significant association was also found between SNP2197/C733R and infection status (P < 0.0001); cows with the heterozygous genotype were 3.35 times more likely to be infected than cows with the reference genotype (P = 0.01). Results suggest a role for CARD15 gene in the susceptibility of cattle to paratuberculosis infection. These data contribute to the understanding of paratuberculosis, suggest new similarities with Crohn's disease and provide new information for the control of bovine paratuberculosis.
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