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Immune status of mares during different cycling phases
Do hormonal changes influence the immune system in horses as presumed in other species? A group from Portugal evaluated whether there are changes in different parameters of the immune status in female horses during the follicular and luteal phase. For this study, they followed 17 mares over a period of 2 years.

Functional competence of peripheral blood neutrophils, such as chemotaxis, phagocytosis and oxidative burst was assessed under physiological cyclic conditions (Exp. I). In the second year of this study (Exp. II), besides peripheral blood neutrophil phagocytosis and oxidative burst analysis, circulating lymphocyte subsets were also characterized. The reproductive status in a total of 17 adult cycling mares was evaluated by ultrasonography and further confirmed by plasma progesterone levels.
Chemotaxis tests were performed using porous membranes inserted in transwell chambers. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from Escherichia coli and N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe (fMLP) were used as chemoattractants. Measurement of phagocytosis and oxidative burst in blood neutrophils were assessed by flow cytometry using commercially available kits. Quantification of T-lymphocyte subsets was assessed by indirect immunofluorescence staining after incubation with monoclonal antibodies specific for CD2, CD3, CD4 and CD8 cell markers by flow cytometry. Natural killer cells and B cells were estimated mathematically.

No significant difference was found in migration, phagocytosis and oxidative burst at either phase of the oestrous cycle. Statistical analysis of total white blood cell counts also showed no significant difference between either phase of the oestrous cycle, although there was a tendency for blood neutrophils to increase in number under the progesterone influence (p = 0.09). Lymphocytic subpopulations did not differ throughout the oestrous cycle.

Overall, our results suggest that luteal and follicular phases in cycling mares may not influence the immune status of the mare.


Source: Roberto da Costa, RP, Carvalho, H, Agrícola, R, Alpoim-Moreira, J, Martins, C & Ferreira-Dias, G (2003): Peripheral Blood Neutrophil Function and Lymphocyte Subpopulations in Cycling Mares. In: Reproduction in Domestic Animals 38 (6), 464-469.



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EQUINE

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