Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid cytokine, cytology and IgE allergen in horses with equine asthma

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The pathophysiology of equine asthma (EA) is still not fully described, but the involvement of an allergic reaction is strongly suspected. This theory has led to the use of allergen-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)E tests to support a diagnosis of asthma. The objective of this descriptive study was to evaluate the correlation between four subgroups of EA (mastocytic mild equine asthma [MEA], neutrophilic MEA, mixed MEA, and severe equine asthma [SEA]), allergen specific IgE (measured in both serum and BALF) and mRNA expression of selected genes in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Serum and BALF were collected from 64 horses with a history of lower airway problems with or without poor performance. Differential cell counts from BALF were used to assign horses to one of four groups (mastocytic MEA; neutrophilic MEA, mixed MEA, and SEA). The expression of messenger RNA (mRNA) coding for IL4, IL5, IL8, IL10, TGFB, TNFA, toll-like receptor (TLR)4, IL1RA, IL1B, matrix metalloproteinase 8 (MMP8), TLR9, chemokine ligand 5 (CCL5) and cluster of differentiation (CD)14 in BALF were measured using reverse transcriptase (RT) quantitative PCR (qPCR). Allergen-specific IgE was measured in serum and BALF using an allergen-specific IgE ELISA test with the screening panel: house mites, storage mites, mould and pollen. As expected, the BALF neutrophil differential count correlated with mRNA expression of MMP-8 (r = 0.611, p < 0.001), TLR-4 (r = 0.540, p < 0.001), IL-1RA (r = 0.490, p < 0.001), IL-1β (r = 0.463, p < 0.001) and IL-8 (r = 0.302, p = 0.015). Cytokine expression of IL-1β (p = 0.014), MMP8 (p = 0.028) and IL-1RA (p = 0.037) was significantly higher in the SEA group compared to the MEA subgroups. The BALF mast cell count was correlated with allergen-specific IgE for insects (r = 0.370, p = 0.002) and pollen (r = 0.313, p = 0.011). Eosinophils in BALF were correlated with BALF mRNA expression of IL-4 (r = 0.340, p = 0.006) together with a significant correlation between BALF eosinophils and allergen-specific IgE for mites (r = 0.930, p < 0.001) and pollen in BALF (r = 0.837, p < 0.001). No correlation was found between allergen-specific IgE in serum and BALF for any of the allergen in the screening panel. Based on these results from allergen-specific IgE in horses with EA is not found in systemic circulation, and only the mastocytic and mixed subgroups of horses with EA had allergen-specific IgE in BALF. Further studies are needed to clarify the relationships identified here.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109976
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Allergy, Insects, Mastocytic equine asthma, Mites, Pollen

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