Age-related changes in cytokine expression by neutrophils of foals stimulated with virulent Rhodococcus equi in vitro. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although evidence exists that neutrophils play a vital role in resistance to infection with Rhodococcus equi, the means by which neutrophils exert their effects have not been clearly defined. In the present study we evaluated differences in cytokine expression by unstimulated and R. equi-stimulated neutrophils obtained from newborn foals and subsequently at 2-, 4-, and 8-weeks of age. Stimulation with virulent R. equi induced significantly (P<0.05) greater expression of IFNgamma, TNFalpha, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12p40, IL-12p35, and IL-23p19 mRNA relative to expression by unstimulated neutrophils, and there were significant effects of age on expression of IL-6, IL-8, IL-12p40 and IL-23p19. Neutrophil expression of IL-6 and IL-8 in newborn foals was significantly greater than expression at 2-, 4-, and 8-weeks of age. Expression of IL-12p40 by R. equi-stimulated neutrophils from newborn and 2-week-old foals did not differ from that of unstimulated neutrophils; however, expression of IL-12p40 by neutrophils from 4- and 8-week-old foals was significantly greater when stimulated by R. equi than without stimulation. These results demonstrate that foal neutrophils increase mRNA expression of many pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IFNgamma, in response to in vitro stimulation with R. equi, and that the magnitude of this expression with respect to IL-6, IL-8, IL-12p40 and IL-23p19 is influenced by age. The clinical importance of the age-related difference in R. equi-induced expression of IL-12p40 to susceptibility to R. equi pneumonia remains to be determined.

published proceedings

  • Vet Immunol Immunopathol

author list (cited authors)

  • Nerren, J. R., Martens, R. J., Payne, S., Murrell, J., Butler, J. L., & Cohen, N. D.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Nerren, Jessica R||Martens, Ronald J||Payne, Susan||Murrell, Jennifer||Butler, Jamie L||Cohen, Noah D

publication date

  • February 2009