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Expression of interleukin-1β, interleukin-8, and interferon-γ in blood samples obtained from healthy and sick neonatal foals

Carolina Castagnetti DVM, PhD1, Jole Mariella DVM, PhD2, Alessandro Pirrone DVM, PhD3, Stefano Cinotti DVM4, Gaetano Mari DVM5, and Angelo Peli DVM, PhD6
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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy.
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy.
  • | 5 Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy.
  • | 6 Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate and compare the gene expression of interleukin(IL)-1β, IL-8, and interferon-γ during the first 72 hours after birth in healthy foals and during the first 72 hours after hospitalization in sick neonatal foals and investigate correlations of clinicopathologic variables with cytokine expressions in healthy and sick neonatal foals.

Animals—33 foals < 7 days old (10 healthy foals, 7 foals with sepsis, 6 foals with peripartum asphyxia syndrome, and 12 foals with other diseases [2 with failure of passive transfer of immunity only were not further evaluated]).

Procedures—A blood sample (15 mL) was collected from each foal immediately after birth or hospital admission (0 hours) and at 24 and 72 hours later. Clinicopathologic variables were evaluated, and cytokine gene expression in WBCs was measured with an absolute quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR assay.

Results—At all time points, gene expression of interferon-γ was low in all groups. No time-dependent changes in cytokine expressions were detected in healthy or sick foals. Foals with sepsis had significantly higher IL-1β gene expression than did healthy foals, foals with peripartum asphyxia syndrome, or foals with other diseases. At 0 hours, IL-1β expression was correlated with plasma fibrinogen concentration in healthy foals and with the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio in foals with sepsis; IL-8 expression was correlated with monocyte count in foals with sepsis and with arterial pH, plasma fibrinogen concentration, and plasma lactate concentration in foals with peripartum asphyxia syndrome.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Data have suggested that evaluation of IL-1β expression in sick neonatal foals could help identify those with sepsis.

Contributor Notes

Supported by funds of the University of Bologna.

Presented in abstract form at the 54th American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Convention, San Diego, December 2008.

Address correspondence to Professor Castagnetti (carolina.castagnetti@unibo.it).