Training Alters the Immune Response of Equine Bronchial Epithelial Cells

A new open access article from Veterinary Research titled “The innate immune response of equine bronchial epithelial cells is altered by training“ is available online. Researchers from Belgium and France think their findings could help address the problem of the increased risk of respiratory viral and bacterial infections in sport horses.

“Altogether, we report a successful model for the culture of EBEC that can be applied to the investigation of pathophysiologic conditions in longitudinal studies,” noted the researchers.


“Respiratory diseases, including inflammatory airway disease (IAD), viral and bacterial infections, are common problems in exercising horses. The airway epithelium constitutes a major physical barrier against airborne infections and plays an essential role in the lung innate immune response mainly through toll-like receptor (TLR) activation. The aim of this study was to develop a model for the culture of equine bronchial epithelial cells (EBEC) in vitro and to explore EBEC innate immune responses in trained horses. Bronchial epithelial biopsies were taken from 6 adult horses during lower airway endoscopy. EBEC were grown in vitro by an explant method. The innate immune response of EBEC was evaluated in vitro by treatment with TLR ligands. TLR3 is the most strongly expressed TLR at the mRNA level in EBEC and stimulation of EBEC with Poly(I:C), an analog of viral dsRNA, triggers a strong secretion of IFN-β, TNF-α, IL-6 and CXCL8. We further evaluated the EBEC innate immune response in horses that underwent a 4-month-training program. While training had no effect on TLR mRNA expression in EBEC as well as in bronchial biopsies, it increased the production of IFN-β after stimulation with a TLR3 ligand and decreased the secretion of TNF-α and IL-6 after stimulation with a TLR2 and TLR3 ligand. These findings may be implicated in the increased risk for viral and bacterial infections observed in sport horses. Altogether, we report a successful model for the culture of EBEC that can be applied to the investigation of pathophysiologic conditions in longitudinal studies.”


Linda Frellstedt, Center of Equine Sports Medicine, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium and CIRALE, École Nationale Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort, Goustranville, France; Philippe Gosset and Gwenola Kervoaze, Institut Pasteur de Lille, Centre d’Infection et d’Immunité de Lille, Lille, France, and Université Lille Nord de France, Lille, France, and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Lille, France, and Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Lille, U1019, France, and Institut Fédératif de Recherche, Lille, France; Aymeric Hans, Anses-Dozulé, Equine Pathology Laboratory, Virology Unit, Goustranville, France; Christophe Desmet, Dimitri Pirottin, and Fabrice Bureau, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, GIGA-Research, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium; Pierre Lekeux and and Tatiana Art, Center of Equine Sports Medicine, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium.

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