OBJECTIVE: To investigate the distribution of T-cell markers (CD4 and CD8α) in lymphoid organs of newborn, juvenile, and adult yaks.
ANIMALS: 15 healthy male yaks of various ages from highland plateaus.
PROCEDURES: Yaks were allocated to groups on the basis of age (newborn [1 to 7 days old; n = 5], juvenile [5 to 7 months old; 5], and adult [3 to 4 years old; 5]). The thymus, spleen, 5 mesenteric lymph nodes, and 5 hemal nodes were harvested from each yak within 10 minutes after euthanasia. Morphological characteristics of those lymphoid organs were assessed by histologic examination; expression of CD4 and CD8α mRNAs and proteins were measured by quantitative real-time PCR assay and immunohistochemical staining.
RESULTS: Among the lymphoid organs evaluated, expressions of CD4 and CD8α mRNAs were highest in the thymus in all age groups. In newborn lymphoid organs, CD4 mRNA expression and CD4+ cell distribution were more predominant, whereas in juvenile and adult lymphoid organs, CD8α mRNA expression and CD8α+ cell distribution were more predominant. The CD4+ and CD8α+ cells were mainly located in the cortex and medulla of the thymus, the medulla of the hemal nodes and mesenteric lymph nodes, the periarteriolar lymphoid sheaths, and the red pulp of the spleen.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Results indicated that the CD4 mRNA expression and CD4+ T-cell distribution in yak lymphoid organs decreased and CD8α mRNA expression and CD8α+ T-cell distribution increased with age. Moreover, CD8α+ cells were present in the follicles of yaks’ secondary lymphoid organs, which differs from findings for other mammals.