Flow-cytometric analysis of circulating leukocyte populations in turkeys : establishment of a whole blood analysis approach and investigations on possible influencing factors
The blood cell counting methods used for diagnostic and research purposes in turkeys are, up to date, inferior to the techniques established for mammals and chickens. While microscopic counts are time consuming, previous flow cytometric approaches did not cover all blood cell types of interest due to the lack of turkey-specific markers for the different cell populations. Moreover, it is unknown to what extent the different leukocyte populations are affected by host and environmental factors including age, breed of the bird, and housing environment, respectively. In this study we established a whole blood based flow cytometric analysis method for turkeys. This method was used to determine baseline values depending on the age of the birds as well as under consideration of variations between trials and animal room effects. During three trials whole blood samples of B.U.T. 6 female turkeys were collected to analyze different leukocyte concentrations (cells/μl whole blood). In the first trial one group and in the second and third trial two groups with 22 birds/group were housed. Blood samples were collected at days one, 23, 43, 60, and 88 post hatch and concentrations of monocytes, MHC class II-positive, CD4+, and CD8+ lymphocytes, as well as thrombocytes and granulocytes were determined by flow cytometric analysis. Concentrations of all identified populations were not only influenced by the bird's age (p < 0.05), they varied also among trials (p < 0.05) and even for some of the populations between animal rooms within the same trial despite comparable housing and management conditions. Therefore, for the establishment of baseline values for leucocyte concentrations in whole blood effects of age and housing have to be considered. In addition, our data emphasize the importance of the establishment of baseline values for different age groups, as age had the strongest effect on the blood cell numbers in this study.