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Early development of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in neonatal foals following oral inoculation with Rhodococcus equi

Harris, Seth P., Hines, Melissa T., Mealey, Robert H., Alperin, Debra C., Hines, Stephen A.
Veterinary immunology and immunopathology 2011 v.141 no.3-4 pp. 312-316
Actinobacillus equuli, Rhodococcus equi, bacteria, cell walls, cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, early development, foals, immune response, inoculum, lipids, pathogens, vaccination, vaccines
Rhodococcus equi is an important respiratory pathogen of young foals for which a vaccine has long been sought. Two major impediments to effective vaccination are the functionally immature type I immune responses of neonatal foals and early exposure to the bacterium via the environment. Despite these obstacles, it appears that under specific circumstances foals can develop a protective immune response. In this study we investigated the protective mechanisms behind oral inoculation of foals with virulent R. equi bacteria. Two foals receiving an oral inoculum demonstrated accelerated development of R. equi specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) as evidenced by significant lysis of R. equi infected, ELA-A mismatched cells at 3 weeks of age. As in a previous study, CTL were not detected until 5–6 weeks of age in two control foals. At each time point the ability of foal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to produce IFN-γ following stimulation with live R. equi or extracted cell wall lipids was similar to that of an adult horse control and between foals, regardless of treatment. These results provide a potential mechanism of protection which has previously been shown to occur following oral inoculation, and suggest that the early detection of CTL may be a useful marker for induction of protective immunity.