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Weaning, particularly the widespread practice of abrupt separation of the mare and foal, has been shown to be a stressful event for horses. Physiological changes in foals measured after weaning include increased blood cortisol concentrations and a subsequent decrease in cell-mediated immune responses. In the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial reported here, we assessed the effect of an equine appeasing pheromone (EAP; Modipher EQ, E.A.P. Mist [Pherosynthese s.n.c., Le Rieu Neuf, Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt, France]) as an aid for reducing the behavioral and physiological signs of stress during weaning. Fourteen quarter horse foals were separated from their dam (equid mother) between 105 and 146 days of age, in age-matched pairs, and placed in 3.66 × 3.66 m stalls (one treated and one control foal in each stall). Treated foals received the synthetic analogue of the EAP by intranasal wipe 30 minutes before separation and twice daily thereafter for 48 hours. Control foals received placebo by intranasal wipe on the same schedule. The foals were continuously videotaped for 48 hours postweaning to monitor behavioral responses. Blood samples were drawn 24 hours pretreatment and 24 and 48 hours postweaning for evaluation of physiological indicators of stress (serum cortisol) and cytokines as stress-related and immune-mediated response parameters. Interestingly, although behavioral and serum cortisol measures were similar between groups, treatment with EAP had a significant (P

Foals, difficult birth: Feed one 30 ml tube Foal Response as soon as foal is ready to receive it.

Cell-mediated immune responses of murine and human neonates are generally thought to be biased toward a Th2 response (). Several studies have documented that newborn foals are deficient in their ability to induce IFN-γ in response to stimulation with mitogens (, ). These findings, along with the peculiar susceptibility of foals to infection with R. equi, a facultative intracellular pathogen known to cause disease in immunocompetent mice only when a Th2 response is experimentally induced (), have led to the hypothesis that T-cell responses from newborn foals may be biased toward a Th2 cytokine profile. However, experimental infection of neonatal foals with virulent R. equi triggers induction of IFN-γ mRNA transcription in a manner that is similar to that in adult horses, indicating that foals can mount adequate IFN-γ responses if they are provided the proper stimulus (, ). Thorough assessment of the Th1/Th2 polarization of the foals' immune responses also necessitates measurement of Th2 cytokines, such as IL-4. Recent data demonstrate that foals are also deficient in their ability to produce IL-4 in response to stimulations with mitogens, suggesting that a clear-cut polarization toward a Th2 response is unlikely in neonatal foals (, ). The relative Th1/Th2 polarization of equine neonatal immune responses would be better assessed by measuring antigen-specific responses after vaccination rather than after stimulation with mitogens. To the authors' knowledge, the present study is the first to measure Th1 and Th2 cytokines in response to vaccination of newborn foals with a killed adjuvanted vaccine. Consistent with studies using mitogens, baseline (prior to vaccination) IFN-γ and IL-4 concentrations in the present study were significantly lower in 3-day-old foals than in adult horses. However, the IFN-γ/IL-4 ratio after vaccination was significantly higher in both groups of foals than in adult horses. These results indicate that although basal cytokine secretion in neonatal foals may be considerably dampened, there is not a clear bias toward a Th2 response to the vaccine used in the present study.

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Sanchez said researchers are currently looking more closely at foals' response to vaccination. I didn't give the whole thing at once because I'd rather she fill her tummy up with colostrum rather than me fill it up with foal response. It did seem to perk her up though.

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Cortisol is the primary corticosteroid secreted in a diurnal pattern from the adrenal cortex of healthy, nonstressed horses and foals (,). Secretion of cortisol is under the control of the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary gland via corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), respectively. The central nervous system senses signals from the body, such as tissue injury, pain, hypotension, hypoxemia, and cytokine release, which are relayed to and integrated by the hypothalamus (). In turn, release of CRH is increased or decreased based on the information received by the hypothalamus. Both CRH and ACTH are subject to negative feedback control by increased concentrations of circulating cortisol. During illness, increases in serum cortisol concentration are believed to be a vital component of the physiologic stress response (). The effects of cortisol are numerous and necessary for normal function and homeostasis in the body. Cortisol is essential for provision of nutrients to tissues via carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism; regulation of immune function; synthesis and action of catecholamines and adrenergic receptors; cardiac contractility; vascular tone and maintenance of blood pressure; wound healing; endothelial integrity; and various other functions (,). Factors, such as prolonged transport, colic, laminitis, anesthesia, and surgery, have been associated with increased serum cortisol concentrations in horses (–). As well, in times of stress, severe infection, trauma, or illness, secretion of cortisol can increase as much as 6-fold in humans and is roughly proportional to the severity of illness (–). Diurnal variation in cortisol secretion is lost during these instances as a result of increased production of CRH and ACTH and a reduction in negative feedback from cortisol (,).

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