Digital dermatitis is currently the most common cause of lameness in dairy cattle worldwide. The
disease manifests itself as a skin lesion at the ‘skin-claw’ transition, mainly affecting the hind legs.
It considerably impairs the welfare of the affected animals and the income of the dairy farmer. Key
in this disease is an infection with Treponema spp.. Although the disease is known for already
more than 40 years, the biological mechanisms leading to the painful lesions are not fully
elucidated yet. Furthermore, at the moment, both the curative and the preventive treatment are
mainly based on a massive use of antibiotics. Multiple stakeholders such as the dairy and
pharmaceutical industry are currently searching for a more efficient, non-antibiotic treatment.
Until now, studies searching for efficient vaccines or antiseptics have been unsuccessful. An
innovative approach would be to tackle the inflammatory reaction that is associated with the
disease. In order to be able to develop a drug that efficiently interrupts an inflammatory response,
the inflammatory pathways should be known. In a previous study, we were able to identify the
cytokine IL-8 as a potential key player in the inflammatory reaction associated with digital
dermatitis. In the present project we propose subsequent studies aiming to decipher the
inflammatory pathways involved in digital dermatitis. Results may offer the pharmaceutical
industry novel opportunities in their search of an efficient treatment.