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Immunology. 1995 Mar;84(3):495-9.

Abnormal patterns of equine leucocyte differentiation antigen expression in severe combined immunodeficiency foals suggests the phenotype of normal equine natural killer cells.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706, USA.


Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is a fatal autosommal disease of Arabian horses that leads to failure of maturation of T- and B-lymphocyte populations, although natural killer (NK) cells are unaffected. Thymic and lymph node tissues from two foals suffering from SCID were examined in an immunohistological study using a panel of monoclonal antibodies recognising equine leucocyte differentiation antigens. In both foals, the majority of cells in lymphoid tissues had an EqCD3-EqCD4-EqCD8+ phenotype, although rare EqCD3+ cells were also detected. The EqCD3-EqCD4-EqCD8+ cells may represent an abnormal lymphocyte differentiation product resulting from the SCID defect, or alternatively may be a normal equine NK cell population. We suggest that the evidence favours the latter proposal, and that equine NK cells in normal horses therefore may be identified by an EqCD3-EqCD8+ phenotype. The implications for the nature of the equine SCID defect are discussed.

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