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Effects of subclinical pregnancy toxemia on immune responses in sheep

Nicola LaceteraIstituto di Zootecnia, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.

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Umberto BernabucciIstituto di Zootecnia, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.

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Bruno RonchiIstituto di Zootecnia, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.

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Alessandro NardoneIstituto di Zootecnia, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the effects of moderate feed restriction, single or twin pregnancy, and subclinical pregnancy toxemia (PT) on immune responses of ewes.

Animals—16 Sardinian ewes.

Procedure—Six weeks before lambing, ewes were assigned to 1 of 2 groups (n = 8/group) matched for number of fetuses, body condition score, and plasma glucose, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), and β- hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) concentrations, and feed intake was restricted for 1 of the groups. Cell-mediated immunity was evaluated in vivo and in vitro. Humoral immunity was evaluated in vivo by determining production of IgG antibodies against keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH).

Results—Four ewes developed subclinical PT (plasma BHBA concentration > 0.86 mmol/L without any clinical signs of disease). Whether feed was restricted and type of pregnancy (single vs twin) did not have any significant effects on cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. Ewes with subclinical PT had significantly lower in vitro proliferation of phytohemagglutinin- stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells and significantly lower values for KLH-specific IgG than did healthy ewes. Plasma BHBA and NEFA concentrations were negatively correlated with in vitro proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells; plasma NEFA concentration was negatively correlated with values for KLH-specific IgG.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that subclinical PT may be associated with impairments in cell-mediated and humoral immune responses in sheep. Am J Vet Res 2001;62:1020–1024)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effects of moderate feed restriction, single or twin pregnancy, and subclinical pregnancy toxemia (PT) on immune responses of ewes.

Animals—16 Sardinian ewes.

Procedure—Six weeks before lambing, ewes were assigned to 1 of 2 groups (n = 8/group) matched for number of fetuses, body condition score, and plasma glucose, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), and β- hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) concentrations, and feed intake was restricted for 1 of the groups. Cell-mediated immunity was evaluated in vivo and in vitro. Humoral immunity was evaluated in vivo by determining production of IgG antibodies against keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH).

Results—Four ewes developed subclinical PT (plasma BHBA concentration > 0.86 mmol/L without any clinical signs of disease). Whether feed was restricted and type of pregnancy (single vs twin) did not have any significant effects on cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. Ewes with subclinical PT had significantly lower in vitro proliferation of phytohemagglutinin- stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells and significantly lower values for KLH-specific IgG than did healthy ewes. Plasma BHBA and NEFA concentrations were negatively correlated with in vitro proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells; plasma NEFA concentration was negatively correlated with values for KLH-specific IgG.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that subclinical PT may be associated with impairments in cell-mediated and humoral immune responses in sheep. Am J Vet Res 2001;62:1020–1024)