• horse;
  • bronchoalveolar cells;
  • stabling;
  • lung disease


Bronchoalveolar lavages (BAL) were performed before and after 3 weeks of housing in 5 horses suffering from COPD and 5 normal horses. In the two groups, the total number of cells recovered remained unchanged after stabling. The most common cell populations in BAL fluid of control animals were alveolar macrophages (46.4%) and lymphocytes (44.9%). The percentage of neutrophils increased after stabling from 8.7% to 27.6%. In COPD horses, lymphocytes predominated (40.7%) in animals at pasture with neutrophils increasing from 29.4% to 71.6% after stabling. After fractionation by Percoll density gradient, alveolar macrophages and neutrophils from normal and COPD horses had a similar density distribution. After stabling, these cells from normal horses were increased in the low density layers, while those from COPD horses were predominantly in the hyperdense layers. Therefore, BAL cells obtained from COPD animals at pasture and after stabling differ from those of control horses in the same environment, not only in their populations but also in their buoyant densities. These differences could be related to different states of cellular activation and perhaps be responsible for disease activity in the COPD horses.