University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment


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Characterization of Interferon-Gamma Production in Foals

David W. Horohov, Ph.D.
(859) 218-1085

photo of mare and foalYoung foals, particularly those less than 6 months of age, are highly susceptible to infection with Rhodococcus equi, the leading cause of to abscessating bronchopneumonia in the foal (Figure 1).  

Recent work in my laboratory has shown that young foals fail to produce interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), a key cytokine involved in the immunity to R. equi and other intracellular pathogens.  As they age, the foal’s ability to produce interferon-gamma increases (Figure 2). 

We have also determined that those foals that develop R. equi infections appear to have even lower levels of IFN-γ compared to uninfected foals (Figure 3).  Our current efforts are focused on determining the relationship between IFN-γ expression and susceptibility to R. equi, and identifying how IFN-γ expression is regulated in foals.

Figure 1.  R. equi-infected lung

photo of infected lung
Figure 2.  IFN-γ production in foals

graph of  IFNg production

Figure 3.  Foals infected with R. equi have reduced levels of IFN-γ expression

graph of IFNg expression


Maxwell H.Gluck Equine Research Center
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0099

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