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This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 91 No. 8, p. 3702-3715
    Received: Sept 04, 2012
    Accepted: Apr 18, 2013
    Published: November 25, 2014

    3 Corresponding author(s):


The effect of selenium supplementation on vaccination response and immune function in adult horses1

  1. M. Brummer 32,
  2. S. Hayes*,
  3. A. A. Adams,
  4. D. W. Horohov,
  5. K. A. Dawson and
  6. L. M. Lawrence*
  1. Department of Animal and Food Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40546
    Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40546; and
    Alltech Inc. Center for Animal Nutrigenomics and Applied Animal Nutrition, Nicholasville, KY 40356


Selenium status has been reported to affect immune function across many different species. Yet few studies have focused on the effect of Se status on the equine immune system. This study examined the effect of Se supplementation on vaccination response and immune function in mature horses. Twenty-eight horses were blocked by age and sex and were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 dietary treatment groups: low Se (LS), adequate Se (AS), Se-yeast (SP), and sodium selenite (SS). For 35 wk, horses allocated to LS, SP, and SS received a low-Se diet (0.06 mg/kg DM) with the intention to lower Se stores, whereas AS received an adequate Se diet (0.12 mg/kg DM). A 29-wk repletion phase was as follows: LS and AS were kept on the diets fed during the depletion period, whereas SP and SS received the depletion diet plus their respective Se supplements to achieve a dietary Se concentration of 0.3 mg/kg DM. The Se status of the horses was monitored using whole blood Se and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity as indicators. At wk 22 and 25 of the repletion phase, horses were vaccinated intramuscularly with 10 mg ovalbumin (OVA). Horses were also vaccinated against equine influenza at wk 25. Blood samples were collected for 7 wk after initial vaccination for serum separation and at 0, 3, and 5 wk postvaccination for peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) isolation and whole blood cytokine mRNA evaluation. At wk 22 of the repletion phase, both Se and GSH-Px were greater for SP and SS compared with AS and LS (P < 0.001). Serum vitamin E was similar between treatments. Response to OVA vaccination, evaluated as OVA-specific IgG production, cytokine mRNA expression of PBMC stimulated with OVA in vitro, and lymphocyte proliferation, was unaffected by Se status. Similarly, memory response to the influenza vaccine was not affected by Se status. However, decreased mRNA expression of selected cytokines was observed in PBMC stimulated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate for LS compared with AS, SP, and SS (P < 0.05). Whole blood mRNA expression of IL-10 was greater for SS compared with LS, AS, and SP (P = 0.043). Although the OVA and influenza vaccination responses were unaffected by Se status, other measures of immune function did indicate that low Se status could adversely affect cell-mediated immunity.

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