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  • Author or Editor: Jacques Bernier x
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Objective—To study effects of in vitro exposure of bovine leukocytes to mercury, cadmium, and lead on phagocytosis, natural killer cell activity, and lymphocyte proliferation.

Sample Population—Leukocytes from 6 nonpregnant Holstein heifers.

Procedure—Leukocytes were exposed in vitro to the aforementioned metals, and leukocyte functions were assessed.

Results—Phagocytosis was suppressed by 10−5 to 10−7 M CdCl2 and by 10−5 and 10−6 M HgCl2, but not 10−7 M HgCl2 nor 10−4 to 10−6 M PbCl2. Spontaneous and concanavalin A- or phytohemagglutinin-stimulated proliferation of metal-treated bovine blood mononuclear cells was not significantly different from that of nontreated control cells, except for enhanced spontaneous proliferation in response to 10−5 M HgCl2. When proliferation was expressed as a stimulation index, a dosedependent increase of spontaneous proliferation was observed in response to exposure to HgCl2 and PbCl2. Compared with response to 10−6 or 10−7 M CdCl2, reduction of mitogen-induced and spontaneous proliferation was observed on exposure to 10−5 M CdCl2. Natural killer cell activity against yeast artificial chromosome target cells, evaluated by flow cytometry, was decreased only in cells exposed to 10−5 M HgCl2.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Bovine leukocytes are susceptible to the immunomodulatory effects of in vitro exposure to heavy metals at concentrations equal to or higher than those at which similar effects are seen for leukocytes from most other animal species for which data are available for comparison. Exception is phagocytosis, which is severely affected by low concentrations of CdCl2 and HgCl2 in cattle. Reduction of defense mechanisms on exposure to metals could lead to increased susceptibility to potential pathogens.(Am J Vet Res 2000;61:339–344)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research