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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • organic dust;
  • heaves;
  • endotoxin

Summary

To evaluate inhaled hay dust suspensions (HDS) as a tool for the diagnosis and investigation of heaves, the pulmonary inflammatory and functional consequences of inhalation challenge with 3 different HDS were determined in 6 control and 7 asymptomatic heaves horses. Heaves horses given HDS challenge developed the characteristic features of heaves, including airway neutrophilia, obstructive airway dysfunction and mucus hypersecretion. While HDS challenge induced a mild airway neutrophilia in controls, the no-response threshold for controls was greater than that of heaves horses, and there was no overlap in BALF neutrophil ratio of controls and heaves horses. Furthermore, HDS challenge did not induce airway dysfunction or mucus hypersecretion in controls. Therefore, HDS challenges enabled differentiation of control and heaves horses. Interestingly, in both groups, the airway neutrophilia was a dose-dependent response rather than an ‘all or nothing’ response. This study suggests that HDS challenges are of value in the diagnosis and investigation of heaves.