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To quantify dectin-1 expression in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), create polyclonal antibodies against equine dectin-1 and localize it in tissues, and quantify fungal exposure in pastured and stabled asthmatic and nonasthmatic horses.


BALF samples from 6 controls and 6 horses with severe asthma. Stored lung and nasal wash samples.


Dectin-1 expression was quantified by quantitative PCR (qPCR). Purified peptide from equine dectin-1 was used to generate polyclonal antibodies and was confirmed with immunological testing. Fungal exposure was quantified in BALF samples by counting fungal-like intracellular particles in phagocytic cells, by qPCR quantification of the “universal” 18S rRNA fungal gene, and by quantifying 36 specific fungi in equine and dust samples using qPCR assays.


Equine dectin-1 was localized in tissues and cells, and functional isoforms were upregulated significantly in BALF after stabling. Pastured horses from both groups had low levels of fungi in BALF, and there was a significant increase in some specific fungi, most notably for Eurotium amstelodami, Wallemia sebi, and Aspergillus niger after stabling. However, stabled asthmatic horses had fewer phagocytized particles, less 18S rRNA signal, and fewer specific fungi compared to nonasthmatic horses.


Stabling increases exposure to fungi, but asthmatic horses had fewer fungi reaching their lower airways, presumably resulting from congestion and narrowing of the airways. Exposure to fungi could contribute to airway inflammation by increasing dectin-1 functional isoforms, and exposure to indoor molds should be avoided.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research