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Open Access Research article

Neutrophil and macrophage apoptosis in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from healthy horses and horses with recurrent airway obstruction (RAO)

Artur Niedzwiedz1*, Zbigniew Jaworski2, Bartlomiej Tykalowski3 and Marcin Smialek3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Diseases with Clinic for Horses, Dogs and Cats, The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Pl. Grunwaldzki 47, Wrocław 50-366, Poland

2 Department of Horse Breeding and Riding, University of Warmia and Mazury, Prawocheńskiego 2, Olsztyn 10-720, Poland

3 Department of Poultry Diseases, University of Warmia and Mazury, Oczapowskiego 13, Olsztyn 10-719, Poland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:29  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-29

Published: 24 January 2014



Dysregulation of apoptosis has been implicated in a range of diseases including tumors, neurodegenerative and autoimmine diseases, as well as allergic asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in humans. Although it has a different pathophysiology, delayed apoptosis of various inflammatory cells may play a pivotal role in the development of recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) in horses. Reduction of inflammatory cell apoptosis or a dysregulation of this process could lead to chronic inflammation and tissue injury. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the rate of apoptosis and necrosis of neutrophils and macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid obtained from seven horses suffering from RAO (study group) and seven control horses.


We demonstrated that neutrophil/macrophage apoptosis is altered in RAO-affected horses compared with the control group in the BAL fluid. We found a significant difference between the median percentage of early and late apoptosis of neutrophils between the study and control group of horses. Moreover, we found a positive correlation between the rate of apoptosis and the median percentage of macrophages in RAO-affected horses.


The findings suggest that apoptosis dysregulation may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of RAO. However, further studies are needed to clarify the role of altered apoptosis in the course of equine recurrent airway obstruction.