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Endotoxaemia is a major cause of equine morbidity, and plasma from horses immunised
against Escherichia coli is used in its treatment. The aim of this study was to determine
the effects of hyperimmune plasma on the clinical and leukocyte responses, including
production and activity of TNFα, in an in vivo endotoxin challenge model. Pre-treatment
with hyperimmune equine plasma had no significant effect on peak total plasma TNFα
concentration (occurring 90min after the administration of 30ng/kg LPS). However,
the bioavailable (unbound) TNFα measured by bioassay was significantly reduced in
plasma-treated horses (1044.44±193.93pg/ml at 90min) compared to saline treated controls
(1373.92±107.63pg/ml; P=0.05). Therefore, although pre-treatment with hyperimmune
equine plasma did not significantly modify the clinical signs of endotoxaemia in this
model, there was some evidence of reduced TNF bioactivity, which may be due to factors
in the plasma which bind and reduce the activity of this cytokine.