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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Leucocyte phagocytosis during the luteal phase in bitches

Ström Holst, Bodil; Hagberg Gustavsson, Malin; Lilliehöök, Inger; Morrison, David; Johannisson, Anders


Pyometra is a disease that affects a large proportion of intact bitches, and typically is seen during the latter half of dioestrus. Several factors contribute to the development of pyometra, including genetic factors, an infectious component (most often Escherichia coli), and hormonal factors. Hormones may act directly on the endometrium, and also affect the immune system. In dogs, the phagocytic ability has been shocvn to decrease with age, and ovarian hormones have also been shown to affect immune resistance. The aim of the present study was to examine whether phagocytosis by canine leucocytes varies significantly during the luteal phase. Eight bitches were followed by repeated blood sampling. Samples were taken at the calculated optimal day for mating (Day 1), and thereafter on days 8, 15 and 22 (early luteal phase) and 29, 43, 57 and 71 (late luteal phase). Blood was collected from the cephalic vein into EDTA tubes for leucocyte counts and heparinised tubes for testing of phagocytosis and oxidative burst using commercial kits and flow cytometry. The cell activity of the phagocyting leucocytes, expressed as mean fluorescence activity, ME, was significantly lower during late luteal phase than during early luteal phase. The proportion of leucocytes that was induced to phagocyte did not differ significantly. The percentage of cells stimulated by E. coli to oxidative burst was significantly lower during late luteal phase. Their activity did not differ between the two periods. The number of cells stimulated to oxidative burst by a low stimulus was too low to evaluate, and leucocytes stimulated with the high stimulus did not vary in oxidative burst between the two periods. The changes in phagocytic activity and in the number of leucocytes that showed oxidative burst were not associated with any change in the proportion of different leucocytes. The decreased phagocytic capacity possibly contributes to the higher incidence of diseases such as pyometra during the latter part of the luteal phase. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Canine; Leucocyte; Phagocytosis; Oxidative burst; Progesterone

Published in

Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
2013, Volume: 153, number: 1-2, pages: 77-82