Determining Endocrine and Immune Factors For Survival in Septic vs Healthy Neonatal Foals

The leading cause of mortality in neonatal foals is bacterial septicemia; therefore, our long-term goal is to develop intervention procedures to improve foal survival and to enhance the health of neonates.  The adaptive response of the body to the pathophysiologic stress created by acute severe sepsis causes activation of both the neuroendocrine and immune systems.  Therefore, we conducted a prospective clinical study that compared endocrine and immune factors in 11 healthy and 15 septic neonatal foals. The purpose of this study was 3-fold: (1) to determine whether there was an association between adrenal axis and cytokine expression in hospitalized full-term, septic and nonseptic neonatal foals, (2) to compare temporal changes in secretion of ACTH and cortisol between septic and nonseptic foals, and (3) to compare temporal changes in expression of cytokines among septic and nonseptic foals of the same ages. At each time point examined, ACTH and cortisol concentrations were greater in septic than nonseptic foals. The observation that anti-inflammatory cytokine gene expression was decreased in septic foals relative to nonseptic foals suggests dysfunction of the immune system among septic foals. Another key finding was an association between the adrenal axis and pro-inflammatory gene expression among septic foals. How cytokines, adrenal axis hormones and the innate immune system interact to impact the clinical response to sepsis warrants further review.

The above research topics were researched by retired professor Dr. David Forest. For more information please contact Chelsie Huseman at chelsiejo@email.tamu.edu.

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