Comparison of tracheal aspirates and bronchoalveolar lavage in racehorses: 1. Evaluation of cytological stains and the percentage of mast cells and eosinophils.

Kris Hughes, N Malikides, D. R. Hodgson, J. L. Hodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To compare a fast Romanowsky cytological stain (Diff-Quik) and Leishman's stain for the detection of mast cells in samples from the lower airways of racehorses, and to compare the proportion of mast cells and eosinophils in the total inflammatory cells in tracheal aspirate (TA) with those in paired bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples. DESIGN: Retrospective case series of 48 young Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses. PROCEDURE: Fifty-one paired TA and BAL samples were collected after treadmill exercise from 48 horses with poor racing performance. Two slides were prepared from each sample; one was stained with Diff-Quik stain and the other with Leishman's stain. Differential cell counts of eosinophils and mast cells were recorded from each slide. Comparison of the suitability of the stains for the detection of mast cells, and comparisons of eosinophil and mast cell percentages in TA and BAL samples were analysed using the non-parametric Wilcoxon matched pairs test. RESULTS: Percentages of mast cells were significantly higher in Leishman than in Diff-Quik stained slides in both TA (P = 0.03) and BAL samples (P < 0.0001). Mast cell percentages were significantly higher in BAL than in TA samples using Leishman's stain (P < 0.0001). There was no significant difference in eosinophil percentages between TA and BAL samples (P = 0.07). CONCLUSIONS: Fast Romanowsky type stains (for example Diff-Quik) are not appropriate for the detection of mast cells in samples from the equine lower respiratory tract. Therefore, a metachromatic stain that reliably identifies mast cells (for example Leishman's) should be used if evaluation of mast cells in lower respiratory tract is undertaken. Mast cells are predominantly found in the distal small airways and alveoli sampled with a BAL. In contrast, eosinophils appear to be evenly distributed in the lower respiratory tract. However, high percentages of eosinophils are occasionally found only in TA samples. We recommend that both a TA and BAL be used for the evaluation of eosinophils and mast cells within the equine lower respiratory tract.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-684
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Volume81
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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