Ph.D. student Meredith Frie publishes article
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) infection is widespread in the US dairy industry and the majority of producers do not actively try to manage or reduce BLV incidence within their herds. However, BLV is estimated to cost the dairy industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually and this is likely a conservative estimate. BLV is not thought to cause animal distress or serious pathology unless infection progresses to leukemia or lymphoma. However, a wealth of research supports the notion that BLV infection causes widespread abnormal immune function. BLV infection can impact cells of both the innate and adaptive immune system and alter proper functioning of uninfected cells. Despite strong evidence of abnormal immune signaling and functioning, little research has investigated the large-scale effects of BLV infection on host immunity and resistance to other infectious diseases. This review focuses on mechanisms of immune suppression associated with BLV infection, specifically aberrant signaling, proliferation and apoptosis, and the implications of switching from BLV latency to activation. In addition, this review will highlight underdeveloped areas of research relating to BLV infection and how it causes immune suppression.