Early neutrophil but not eosinophil or platelet recruitment to the lungs of allergic horses following antigen exposure


and present address: Dr S. M. Fairbairn, Department of Applied Pharmacology. National Heart and Lung Institute. Dovehouse Street. London SW3 6LY, U.K.


Previous studies have shown that bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from horses with allergic respiratory disease and showing clinical symptoms contains increased numbers of neutrophils. In some cases, the eosinophil count is also increased. In this study the time course of changes in lung function and the accumulation of radiolabelled leucocytes and platelets in the lungs of allergic and normal horses has been examined during a 7 hr allergen exposure. Antigen challenge had no effect on pleural pressure or the distribution of radiolabelled neutrophils, eosinophils or platelets in normal horses. In contrast, in 6/8 allergic horses, there was an increase in pleural pressure and neutrophil accumulation in the lungs, both of which were evident after 4–5 hr. However, during the 7 hr challenge period radiolabelled eosinophils were detected in the lungs of only 1/6 horses exhibiting an increase in pleural pressure and in 1/7 horses that failed to show a change in airway function despite a clinical history of allergic respiratory disease. Antigen challenge did not alter the distribution of radiolabelled platelets in the five allergic horses tested. These results demonstrate that increased pleural pressure is not accompanied by eosinophil or platelet accumulation in the lungs of horses with allergic respiratory disease following exposure to antigen. However, changes in airway function can be associated with neutrophil accumulation but can also take place in the absence of this cell recruitment. This raises the possibility that the presence of neutrophils in the lung is not a prerequisite for changes in lung function.