Introduction: Pregnancy is a physiological state in which the immune system undergoes certain changes. On the one hand, by depleting cell defence mechanisms, it favours development and maintenance of the pregnancy. At the same time cells of the immune system ensure resistance to many risk factors, including infectious agents.
Material and Methods: The study was carried out on 24 Polish Konik breed mares which were divided into two equal groups. The first group (group I) included mares living in the reserve. The second group (group II) comprised mares maintained under conventional conditions in the stables. The blood samples were collected for the first time in the perinatal period, i.e. 2 weeks before parturition (trial 0), then within the first 24 h after delivery, and then on 7th and 21st day after foaling. Flow cytometric analysis of lymphocyte expressing TCD4+, TCD8+, CD2+, and MHC class II antigens was performed.
Results: Before the delivery, in group I there was a significantly higher CD4:CD8 ratio compared to group II (P ≤0.05). Similarly, significantly increased CD4:CD8 ratio in group I was noted within 24 h after parturition (P ≤0.001) and it was also observed on 7th day (P ≤0.03) and 21st day after foaling (P ≤0.02). In the first 24 h after parturition, a significant decline of lymphocytes CD8+ (P ≤0.02) was noted. No significant differences in terms of lymphocytes CD2+ and CD3+ were observed. Expression of MHC-II molecules before and after the parturition was higher in group I compared to group II; however, the difference between the groups was not significant.
Conclusion: The results obtained indicate that mares living in the reserve display higher activity of cell defence mechanisms.
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