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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2010 Dec;17(12):1896-902. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00328-10. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Equine neonates have attenuated humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to a killed adjuvanted vaccine compared to adult horses.

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Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


The objectives of this study were to compare relative vaccine-specific serum immunoglobulin concentrations, vaccine-specific lymphoproliferative responses, and cytokine profiles of proliferating lymphocytes between 3-day-old foals, 3-month-old foals, and adult horses after vaccination with a killed adjuvanted vaccine. Horses were vaccinated intramuscularly twice at 3-week intervals with a vaccine containing antigens from bovine viral respiratory pathogens to avoid interference from maternal antibody. Both groups of foals and adult horses responded to the vaccine with a significant increase in vaccine-specific IgGa and IgG(T) concentrations. In contrast, only adult horses and 3-month-old foals mounted significant vaccine-specific total IgG, IgGb, and IgM responses. Vaccine-specific concentrations of IgM and IgG(T) were significantly different between all groups, with the highest concentrations occurring in adult horses, followed by 3-month-old foals and, finally, 3-day-old foals. Only the adult horses mounted significant vaccine-specific lymphoproliferative responses. Baseline gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) concentrations were significantly lower in 3-day-old foals than in adult horses. Vaccination resulted in a significant decrease in IFN-γ concentrations in adult horses and a significant decrease in IL-4 concentrations in 3-day-old foals. After vaccination, the ratio of IFN-γ/IL-4 in both groups of foals was significantly higher than that in adult horses. The results of this study indicate that the humoral and lymphoproliferative immune responses to this killed adjuvanted vaccine are modest in newborn foals. Although immune responses improve with age, 3-month-old foals do not respond with the same magnitude as adult horses.

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