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Open Access Lymphocyte Subsets in Neonatal and Juvenile Cats: Comparison of Blood and Lymphoid Tissues

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Objective: To compare lymphocyte subpopulations in the blood and lymphoid tissues of normal kittens between 1 and 90 days of age. Methods: Lymphocyte subsets within the blood, thymus, and lymph node of 24 normal kittens were quantified by use of two-color fluorescence flow cytometry and were compared at 1, 23, 46, or 90 days after birth.

Results: Blood B and T lymphocytes increased over the 90-day postnatal period. The CD4+ and CD8+ subpopulations of T lymphocytes increased. However, CD8+ lymphocytes increased more than did CD4+ lymphocytes, resulting in reduced CD4-to-CD8 ratio. By 23 days of age, similar but more abrupt changes in the CD4to-CD8 ratio occurred in the thymus and lymph nodes, coinciding with the highest thymus-to-body weight ratio and gradual increase in mature thymocytes expressing a pan-T lymphocyte marker.

Conclusions: Postnatal thymopoiesis in the domestic cat favors production of mature CD8+ T lymphocytes over CD4+ T lymphocytes. This coincides with the emergence of CD8+ lymphocytes in the lymph node and precedes a more gradual increase in CD8+ cells in the blood. Therefore, the ontogeny of these effectors of cellmediated immunity could be interrupted by infective agents that target lymphoid tissues of the neonate.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Comparative Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 2: Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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