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J Vet Intern Med. 1999 May-Jun;13(3):206-12.

Peripheral blood lymphocyte subpopulations and immunoglobulin concentrations in healthy foals and foals with Rhodococcus equi pneumonia.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Vet Intern Med 1999 Sep-Oct;13(5):504.


Infectious diseases are common in foals aged 1-5 months. The objectives of this investigation were to evaluate immunologic parameters in foals from birth to weaning to establish reference values for the proportion of circulating lymphocytes that were helper (CD4+) or cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells, or B cells; to measure serum immunoglobulin (IgM and IgG) concentrations; and to compare these immunologic parameters to values in foals with naturally occurring Rhodococcus equi pneumonia and in adult horses. Peripheral blood lymphocyte subpopulations were determined by flow cytometric analysis, and serum IgG and IgM concentrations were determined by radial immunodiffusion. Flow cytometric analysis of lymphocyte subpopulations suggested age-related changes in the cell-mediated immune system in horses. Absolute circulating CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes and B cells increased linearly up to 3 months of age. Circulating B cell concentrations from birth to 6 months of age were greater than values in adult horses and the lymphocyte differences among the age groups are mainly due to variation in B lymphocytes. Both absolute and proportional B cell concentrations were greater in foals with R equi pneumonia than in healthy foals at the same age. The increase in absolute cell counts of each subpopulation was dependent on the increase of absolute peripheral blood lymphocyte count. Serum IgG concentration increased linearly from 1 to 3 months of age, and serum IgM concentrations increased from 1 to 6 months of age. These data suggest age-dependent cell-mediated and humoral development in young foals.

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