Optimal dose and timing in phytohaemagglutinin skin-testing of deer

Optimal dose and timing in phytohaemagglutinin skin-testing of deer
Peer reviewed


AIM: To establish the optimal dose of the mitogen phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) and the optimal time for measuring increased skin-fold thickness in red deer following intradermal injection, as an indicator of cell-mediated immune response.
METHODS: Three doses (10, 50 and 250 μg) of PHA were injected intradermally in the right side of the neck, and phosphate buffered saline (PBS) was injected at a fourth site as a control, in 20 captive Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) hinds. Skin-fold thicknesses were measured at 0, 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84 and 96 h following injection.
RESULTS: The highest dose of PHA tested (250 μg) resulted in a clear and long-lasting cellular response; increases in skin-fold thickness between 48 and 84 h post-injection varied minimally and response correlated positively with liveweight. No correlations with liveweight and no clear increases in skin-fold thickness occurred at the lower doses of PHA or the PBS.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This technique could be applied with minimal training and without specialised equipment in deer, for immunological and ecological research.
KEY WORDS: Cellular immunity, Cervus elaphus, mammalian immune response, wildlife bioindicators

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