Objectives - To establish reference values for the range of the number of eosinophils found in equine gastrointestinal mucosa and to describe the distribution of this cell within the equine gastrointestinal mucosa. Sample Population - Gastrointestinal mucosal specimens from 14 adult horses euthanatized for reasons other than gastrointestinal disease. Procedures - Gastrointestinal mucosal specimens were collected and grouped according to their anatomic regions. For histologic examination slides were stained with Luna's eosinophil stain to determine eosinophil accumulation and distribution. The mucosa was divided into 5 sections for each anatomic location, and the percentage of eosinophils in each of the 5 sections relative to the total eosinophil count in all sections was determined. Additionally, the number of eosinophils per square millimeter of mucosa was calculated as a measure of the degree of eosinophil accumulation. Results--Lowest numbers of eosinophils were found in the stomach, and numbers increased from there to the cecum, then decreased from the ascending colon (right ventral colon, left ventral colon, pelvic flexure, left dorsal colon, and right dorsal colon) to small colon. In all gastrointestinal sections, most eosinophils were located near the muscularis mucosae and were rarely found near or on the luminal surface of the mucosa. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - The distribution of eosinophils in the gastrointestinal tract of horses followed a pattern within the mucosa and between different sections of the gastrointestinal tract. The derived reference values and distribution data could be used to detect changes in eosinophil response in the equine gastrointestinal mucosa caused by diseases states.
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