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Am J Vet Res. 1988 Mar;49(3):295-9.

Rhodococcus (Corynebacterium) equi: bactericidal capacity of neutrophils from neonatal and adult horses.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.


The capacity of hematogenous polymorphonuclear neutrophilic leukocytes (PMNL) to kill Rhodococcus equi was compared in horses of various ages. A radioisotope bactericidal assay was used to determine the capacity of PMNL to kill R equi. Assays were conducted on PMNL from horses in 3 groups: group I, 13 foals with a mean age of 3.3 days; group II, 10 group-I foals at a mean age of 35.7 days; and group III, adult dams of group-I foals. Bacteria were obtained from the lungs of a foal with R equi pneumonia and opsonized with fresh adult equine serum that contained R equi specific antibody. The mean peak percentage of R equi killed by PMNL was 78.9 for group I, 90.1 for group II, and 87.9 for group III. There was no significant difference (P greater than 0.05) among groups; however, 15% of foals in group I (2 foals) had a mean peak percentage of 30.5 killed, which was significantly (P less than 0.05) lower than the percentage for other foals in group I. The results of our investigation indicated that the capacity of PMNL to kill opsonized R equi is similar in neonatal, young, and adult horses. However, some neonatal foals have a substantially lower capacity to kill R equi, which may be an important factor in the pathogenesis of R equi infections.

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