Obesity is a rising problem in cats. It is a risk factor for several diseases and has been linked to impaired immunity. The goal of this study was to determine the effect of body composition and effects of diet on immune function in cats. Twenty-eight short-term obese and 12 lean cats with equal gender distribution were evenly and randomly divided into two groups which were either fed a diet containing saturated (SFA) or long-chain n - 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (3-PUFA) for a period of 6 months prior to testing. Blood was collected by venipuncture from the jugular vein. Blood samples were analyzed in a double blind fashion. A complete blood count was performed and lymphocyte distribution was examined by flow cytometric analysis with specific fluorescein-conjugated subset markers. Immune function was measured as follows: the proliferative activity of different cellular fractions was tested with polyclonal mitogens such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), Ca ionophore, and concanavalin A. Innate immune functions assessed were phagocytosis and natural killer cell (NK) cytotoxicity. A similar immune innate and adaptive immune response was elicited regardless of diet or body condition. However, there was no correlation between body condition, diet, and any of the quantitative and qualitative functional responses of the immune system. We conclude that short-term obesity and the fatty acid composition of the diet do not alter immune responses in cats.
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