University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment


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Characterization of the Immune Response of Old Horses

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

Horses over 20 years of age constitute about 15% of the equine population and many remain actively involved in equestrian sports and reproductive capacities as stallions and brood mares.  Advancing age in horses, as with other species, is eventually associated with a decline in body condition, muscle tone and immune function. 

Thus older horses exhibited decreased responsiveness to vaccination and reduced in vitro responses to various mitogens (Figure 1).  This decreased proliferative response is due, in part, to reduced numbers of cells from older horses undergoing generational divisions (Figure 2).  The mechanism responsible for this age-associated decline in immune function is unknown. 

Current work my laboratory is focused on the characterization of this age-related change in immune function and the development of alternative vaccination strategies that may improve the responses of older horses.

Figure 1. Proliferative response to mitogens.

graph of response

Figure 2.  Generational response to ConA

graph of response


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

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