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The objectives of this study were to quantify lymphocytes and eosinophils in the mucosa of the duodenum and rectum in asthmatic horses.


8 healthy and 10 asthmatic horses.


Asthmatic horses were evaluated in a symptomatic (after 6 weeks of exposure to moldy hay) and asymptomatic status (3 and 7 months after being fed alfalfa pellets [n = 4] or treated with inhaled fluticasone [6]). Duodenal and rectal biopsies were endoscopically (n = 4 to 6) taken in each horse. Eosinophils were counted on slides stained with hematoxylin, eosin, phloxine, and saffron, and immunohistochemistry was used to evaluate T and B lymphocytes using CD3 and CD20, respectively.


The duodenal and rectal epithelium of asthmatic and control horses contained exclusively T lymphocytes (CD3). Symptomatic asthmatic horses, compared to controls, had a significantly higher number of T lymphocytes (CD3) in the duodenal epithelium (P = .016) and the adjacent lamina propria of the villi (P = .04). Compared to symptomatic asthmatic horses, the fluticasone-treated group had significantly fewer T lymphocytes in the total lamina propria of the rectal mucosa (P < .01).


Taken together, these results suggest that asthmatic horses have greater infiltration of T lymphocytes in the duodenal and rectal mucosa, indicating a certain degree of inflammation, which could be due to a systemic inflammatory effect and/or a local effect of ingested hay allergens in asthmatic horses. Systemic markers of inflammation have not been investigated to better qualify if the infiltration noted is due to a local and/or systemic effect.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research