The brood mare farm represents a situation where breeding, transportation and stresses associated with performance create the potential for repetitive challenge by both specific contagious and opportunistic microorganisms. Bacterial endotoxins are believed to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of many Gram-negative bacterial infections in the equine. Core antigens common to Gram-negative bacterial species, genera and group contain the lipopolysaccharide structure responsible for this endotoxic moiety. This report describes the results of an epidemiologic survey of equine serum IgG and IgM antibody activity recognizing common Gram-negative core antigens (GNCA) as determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The study array consisted of a multiple source group of clinically normal adult horses and equine subjects categorized as foals, yearlings and adults from a San Joaquin Valley brood mare farm. The yearlings and adults from the brood mare farm possessed higher antigen-specific ELISA titers (IgM and IgG) when compared to the multiple source group of clinically normal adults. The foals exhibited the lowest ELISA titers of the groups examined from the brood mare farm. The lower titers observed in the foals are consistent with the anticipated decay of passively acquired colostral immunoglobulin. The data presented indicate the equine immune system has ascribed a degree of importance to recognition of shared core antigens of Gram-negative bacteria. Reports in other species have documented a significant level of protection associated with a similar immune response. Further investigations must be completed to determine if there is any degree of protection associated with this increased immune response in the equine.
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