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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2000 Mar 15;73(3-4):267-85.

Characterization of peripheral blood and pulmonary leukocyte function in healthy foals.

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The James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Studies in infants and foals indicate an age-dependent maturation of peripheral lymphocyte subsets. The age-dependent relationship for maturation of cellular immune responses, such as phagocytosis and lymphocyte responses of the peripheral and pulmonary-derived leukocytes, has not been characterized in foals. Lymphocyte subpopulations, mitogen stimulation response of lymphocytes, lymphokine-activated killing cell activity, phagocytosis and oxidative burst activity, and serum immunoglobulin (Ig) classes G and M concentrations were determined in developing foals. This study illustrates age-dependent changes in immunoglobulin class concentrations, lymphocyte subsets, and EqMHC Class II expression in cells of the peripheral blood and lungs of developing neonatal-to-weanling foals. The increase in peripheral blood and BAL B-lymphocytes and serum immunoglobulins in developing foals suggests expansion of immune cell populations during a time in which environmental pathogen exposure is great. General immune function, mitogenic responses, LAK cell activity, opsonized phagocytosis, and oxidative burst activity of newborns was similar to the adult horse. Total immune-cell numbers, rather than function, seemed to be the limiting factor in the development of the equine neonatal immune system. There was an age-related percent increase in the appearance of pulmonary lymphocytes, but a percent decrease in macrophages. Although development of the respiratory immune system follows changes in the peripheral blood, cellular expansion, activation, and migration may occur at a slower pace, making the respiratory environment susceptible to pathogens prior to optimal immune system maturity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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