Heat Stress and Immune Function

  • Anjali Aggarwal
  • Ramesh Upadhyay


Heat stress suppresses different components of the immune system and thereby enhances susceptibility of an animal to various diseases. Some of the responses of heat stress can be prevented or overcome through alternative management practices and some nutritional strategies. Thermal stress imposes significant economic burden on the productivity of cows and buffaloes. Homeothermic processes within a reasonable limit bring back the immune system to a baseline response level after an immune challenge due to heat stress. Haemato­poietic system reacts by decreasing erythrocytes, haemoglobin and packed cell volume during heat stress. The responses of the immune system are of innate and adaptive type. Livestock species of significant economic importance like cattle and buffaloes have a large population of lymphocytes in their blood, and T-lymphocytes recognise antigens through membrane receptors and are responsible for the regulation of the immune response. The immune system of cows contains a large proportion of γδ T-lymphocytes, and the number varies with age and is considerably higher in young animals than in adults, where they constitute 5–10% of the total peripheral blood lymphocytes. The higher concentration of catecholamine exhibits a negative impact on immunity of heat-exposed cells through IL-1α and IL-1β. Glucocorticoids and catechola­mines, through their effects on Th1 and Th2 cytokine secretion, may cause suppression of cellular immunity and cause a shift towards Th2-mediated humoral immunity. Acute and chronic stressors affect the immune responses, and these responses may vary. Chronic stress most often leads to suppression or dysfunction of innate and adaptive immune responses however, acute responses may be variable, that is, immunosuppressive or immunomodulator (Dhabhar and McEwen 2006). The use of various nutritional strategies to enhance the immune system of livestock throughout various stages of production has been investigated extensively, and ameliorative measures have been suggested. Some of the nutritional supplements suggested may be used to enhance immune functions. Vitamin E and Zn have received most attention as immune-stimulatory nutrients. Micro-minerals modulate immune responses primarily through their critical roles in enzyme activity or efficiency complex, and a deficiency or an excess of minerals can alter the activities of the immune system.


Heat Stress Lipoic Acid Somatic Cell Count Clinical Mastitis Reactive Oxidative Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anjali Aggarwal
    • 1
  • Ramesh Upadhyay
    • 1
  1. 1.Dairy Cattle Physiology DivisionNational Dairy Research InstituteKarnalIndia

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