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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2003 Jan 10;91(1):61-71.

The effect of strenuous exercise on mRNA concentrations of interleukin-12, interferon-gamma and interleukin-4 in equine pulmonary and peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The effect of strenuous exercise on the mRNA concentrations of interleukin-12p35 subunit (IL-12p35), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) in equine pulmonary and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was investigated. We hypothesized that strenuous exercise would suppress the expression of IL-12p35, IFN-gamma and augment the expression of IL-4. Eleven horses were randomly divided into two groups, a stall-confined control group (n=5) and an exercise-conditioned treatment group (n=6). Bronchoalveolar and PBMCs were obtained from horses in the treatment group prior to the commencement of a 9-week conditioning program and 24h after the completion of a maximum exercise test conducted in week 12. Samples were obtained simultaneously from control horses. Differential counts were performed on the bronchoalveolar lavage cells. Real-time PCR was performed on the pulmonary and PBMCs to quantitate cytokine expression using equine-specific primers and Taqman probes. Target gene expression was normalized to 18s rRNA expression. With the exception of IL-4 in the BALF cells, mRNA for the three cytokines was detected in the mononuclear cells from all horses at both sampling times. There were no significant differences in the cytokine mRNA concentrations between the two groups of horses at either of the sampling times. These findings demonstrate that strenuous treadmill exercise does not exert a deleterious effect on gene expression for IL-12p35, IFN-gamma or IL-4 when assessed in horses 24h following the intense physical activity.

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