Calf bronchopneumonia is complex multifactorial disease and for its accurate diagnosis and therapy, besides clinical examination, microbiologic, hematologic and biochemical analyses could be necessary. In general, additional analyses are not implemented, mainly because the disease biomarkers are not defined.
To establish which analysis might be useful for determining the severity of the disease, we analyzed 23 three-month old calves with mild clinical signs of bronchopneumonia and 15 age-matched healthy calves. Pasteurella multocida was isolated from deep nasal swabs of diseased calves. Peripheral blood erythrocyte and leukocyte count of bronchopneumonic and healthy calves showed no difference. Serum proteins, lipoproteins and lipids were analyzed with spectrophotometry, agarose gel electrophoresis, non-reducing SDS-PAGE, gel zymography, and thin-layer chromatography. The bronchopneumonic calves had an increased level of circulating immune complexes and α globulins, which contain some of the positive acute phase proteins. In diseased calves the increased concentration of total γ globulins (IgG), due to an increased concentration of anionic γ globulins (predominately IgG1), was detected. The increased concentration of anionic γ globulins followed by increased concentration of transferrin (negative acute phase protein) and HDL cholesterol, decreased concentration of LDL-cholesterol, unchanged activity of matrix metalloproteases and leukocyte counts might reflect the obvious absence of generalized inflammation. A positive correlation was found between the acquired results and the appearance of mild clinical signs. Therefore, we believe that the parameters analyzed in the peripheral blood could be applied as reliable disease markers to distinguish between severe (inflammatory) and mild forms of calf bronchopneumonia and to predict a better outcome for these calves.