Treatment of calves with bovine recombinant α interferon prior to challenge with bovine herpesvirus type 1 increased the animals' ability to withstand a subsequent challenge. The reduction in viral-bacterial synergy observed following interferon treatment did not appear to be due to a direct effect of the interferon on virus replication in the upper respiratory tract. Thus, even though interferon-treated animals shed slightly less virus from their nasal passages than did untreated animals, this reduction was not statistically significant. Furthermore, there was no difference in the level of intranasal interferon secreted by control or interferon-treated animals. These results suggest that interferon treatment does not affect the production of endogenous interferon. In contrast, a significant difference was observed between the number of days that control animals were sick, the levels of serum fibrinogen and the functional activity of polymorphonuclear neutrophilic granulocytes obtained from infected calves. These results suggest that bovine recombinant α interferon may have a greater immunomodulatory effect than a direct antiviral effect in this model. This is further supported by the observation that bovine herpesvirus type 1 is relatively resistant to the direct antiviral effect of bovine recombinant α interferon .


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