Blood leukocyte composition and function in periparturient ewes kept on different dietary magnesium supply
Background: Transition period (TP) is characterised by physiological and metabolic changes contributing to immunodysregulation. Since knowledge about this period in sheep is scarce, we analysed changes in selected immune variables during the TP in ewes and whether dietary magnesium (Mg) supplementation could modulate these immune variables. Pregnant ewes (2nd and 3rd lactation) were divided into a control group (CONT, n = 9) and a Mg group (MAG, n = 10) supplemented with Mg oxide resulting in a daily Mg intake of approximately 0.30 and 0.38% (MAG) of dry matter during ante- (a.p.) and post-partum (p.p.) periods, respectively. Blood samples were collected between days (d) 30 a.p. and d 30 p.p.. Whole blood neutrophil phagocytic activity, monocyte subset (classical cM, intermediate intM, non-classical ncM) composition and the proliferative capacity of lymphocytes were determined flow cytometrically. At d 14 a.p., all ewes were vaccinated against Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP).<h4>Results</h4>Both groups showed a sharp increase in the total leukocyte counts (TLC) and neutrophil counts (P < 0.0001), at d 1 p.p., while, monocytes and their subpopulations displayed the highest values at d 30 p.p. (P ≤ 0.05). At d 1 p.p. the neutrophil phagocytic activity was higher (P < 0.05) in MAG ewes. Throughout the TP, the proliferative response of CD4+ cells was significantly higher in the MAG group (P < 0.05). Ewes in both groups responded with an increase in the TLC, neutrophil numbers (P ≤ 0.05) and ncM (P < 0.001) 24 h post vaccination, whereas monocytes and cM dropped in numbers (P ≤ 0.05). Numbers of intM only increased in MAG ewes (P < 0.05), whereas lymphocyte numbers decreased (P < 0.01). Mg supplementation did not affect the significant increase in MAP-specific antibodies at d 7 and 21 post vaccination. Total Mg and Ca serum levels did not show any differences between the two groups. Conclusion: Whereas TP-associated fluctuations in blood leukocyte numbers are not influenced by Mg supplementation, neutrophil phagocytic activity, the proliferative capacity of CD4+ cells and the cellular response within 24 h after a vaccination are subject to modulation.