Equine recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) is an inflammatory, obstructive airway disease induced by exposure of susceptible horses to inhaled organic dust particles. The immunological process underlying RAO is still unclear. Previous studies have shown that RAO is linked to the Interleukin-4 receptor (IL-4R) gene in one Warmblood family (F1), but not in another (F2). It has also been shown that in F1, but not in F2, RAO is associated with resistance against parasites, suggesting that this association may have an immuno-genetic basis. Therefore, we hypothesized that the T helper (h)1/Th2/regulatory (Treg) cytokine profiles of RAO-associated antigen- and parasite-antigen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) differ between RAO-affected and healthy horses depending on their genetic background. In our study, PBMC from 17 RAO-affected and 14 healthy control horses of F1 and F2 were stimulated for 24 h with antigens relevant to RAO [hay dust extract (HDE), Aspergillus fumigatus extract (AFE) and lipopolysaccharids (LPS)]; cyathostomin extract (CE) and recombinant cyathostomin antigen (RCA) or with concanavalin A (ConA). Total mRNA levels of IL-4, IL-4R, IL-13, interferon (INF)-γ and IL-10 were examined by qRT-PCR. Stimulation with either HDE or RCA resulted in significant differences in IL-4R mRNA levels between RAO-affected and control horses in F1, but not in F2. For IL-10 mRNA expression, a significant difference between RAO-affected and control horses in F1 but not in F2 was observed only following stimulation with HDE. In contrast to HDE, stimulation with CE resulted in a significant difference of IL-10 mRNA expression level between RAO-affected horses of F2 and healthy horses of F1. No significant differences were detected upon stimulation with any of the other challenge agents. These findings indicate that the immunological response, specifically IL-4R expression, in response to hay dust and cyathostomin antigens, differs between RAO-affected and healthy horses depending on their genetic background. This study shows that analysis of PBMC reveals systemic changes associated with RAO and helps to elucidate immunological pathways involved in this disease.
- hay dust
- Warmblood horses