The Effects of Selenium Source on Measures of Selenium Status of Mares and Selenium Status and Immune Function of Their Foals

Julia B. Montgomery, Jeffrey J. Wichtel, Maureen G. Wichtel, Mary A. McNiven, J. T. McClure, Fred Markham, David W. Horohov

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11 Scopus citations


The effect of organic and inorganic sources of selenium (Se) on measures of Se status of mares and their foals, Se concentrations of colostrum and milk, and indices of immune function of foals was studied. Twenty late-gestation Standardbred mares were randomly assigned to one of two groups. All mares received an identical balanced ration, except for the source of supplementary Se: one group received organic Se (Se yeast) and the other group received inorganic Se (sodium selenite), fed to deliver 0.3 mg/kg supplementary Se based on total ration dry matter. Mares received the experimental diet from 2 months before estimated due date until 1 month after foaling. Source of Se did not affect Se concentrations in maternal plasma, red blood cells, colostrum, or milk. At 1 month of age, foals from mares fed organic Se had higher red blood cell Se concentration than foals from mares fed inorganic Se (. P < .05). Measures of immunity included serum immunoglobulin G concentration, lymphocyte proliferation in response to concanavalin A, and relative cytokine gene expression of stimulated lymphocytes (interferon gamma [IFNγ], interleukin [IL]-2, IL-5, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNFα]) and neutrophils (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, TNFα). Relative gene expression of IL-2, TNFα, and IFNγ by foal lymphocytes was associated with the source of Se supplementation provided to the mares. We conclude that the source of dietary Se provided to mares may influence the immune function of foals at 1 month of age through changes in relative gene expression of certain lymphocyte cytokines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-359
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre .


  • Cytokine gene expression
  • Foal
  • Horse
  • Immune function
  • Selenium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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