Abstract Background: Data on gamma-delta (γδ) T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood of dogs are scant, related only to healthy pure breed dogs and limited to a restricted age range. The aim of the study was to investigate the modulation of the γδ T lymphocyte (TCRγδ+) subpopulation in peripheral blood of crossbreed healthy dogs according to five identified stages of life: Puppy, Junior, Adult, Mature, Senior and to determine its implication in aging. A rigorous method of recruitment was used to minimize the influence of internal or external pressure on the immune response. Twenty-three intact female and twenty-four intact male dogs were enrolled. Blood samples were collected and immunophenotyping of peripheral blood T lymphocytes and γδ T cell subpopulations was performed. Results: The percentage of γδ T cells in peripheral blood lymphocytes was comparable with the value of 2.5% published by Faldyna and co-workers (2001), despite the percentage reported was investigated in less arranged age range groups and coming from four different dog pure breeds, whereas our data were recorded on wider age range groups and coming from crossbreed dogs. Therefore, the γδ T cell percentage (2.5%) is consistent and points out that such value is breed-independent. Statistical analysis highlighted differences in both percentage and absolute γδ T cells according to the stage of life. γδ T cells decreased significantly in the peripheral blood of elder dogs (Senior group) in comparison with previous stages of life (Puppy, Junior, and Adult groups). Differences in γδ T cells are significant and they are reported, for the first time, related to dog aging. Conclusions: The study confirms dogs to be among the animals with a low TCRγδ+ cell profile. A decrease of the TCRγδ+ subpopulation percentage was observed in elder dogs. TCRγδ+ cells of group S were different from those of groups P, J, and A. The differences are reported for the first time in dog aging. Identifying the stage of life when the decrease of γδ T lymphocytes starts can be useful for providing a rationale for drafting a wellness plan trial to support thymus immune functions and mitigate its functional exhaustion.
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