An extensive genetic and physiological analysis of the cheetah by O'Brien et al. (1983; 1985; 1987) indicated
that the cheetah showed monomorphism at the major histocompatability complex. This led O'Brien (1985)
to propose that the cheetah suffered from an immunodeficiency and was highly susceptible to diseases.
It was therefore decided to investigate cell-mediated and humoral immune responses and to apply the limited
restriction fragment length analysis (using Pst 1 and Bam H1 enzymes) of the cheetah MHC I and MHC
II genes. Antibody responses to antigens (feline viruses), as well as mitogen-induced lymphocyte blast
transformation responses, were shown to be intact and comparable with that of the domestic cat, indicating
a competent immune system in the cheetah. It was also suggested by the results that some polymorphism
does exist in the MHC class II genes, but possibly not in the MHC class I genes.
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