Thymus atrophy and regeneration were studied in 13- to 22-month-old beef calves treated with dexamethasone (DMT), using anabolic dosages and implementing different withdrawal times. Two trials were conducted. In trial 1, group A (n=6) received 0.7 mg/day DMT orally for 40 days, group B (n=6) received 1.4 mg/day orally for 40 days and group C (n=6) was the control. In trial 2, group D (n=6) received 0.7 mg/day DMT orally for 40 days, group E (n=6) received 1.4 mg/day orally for 40 days and group K (n=6) was the control. DMT withdrawal times before slaughter were six days (groups A and B) and 26 days (groups D and E). At slaughter, thymus atrophy was severe and progressive in animals from groups A and B. In contrast, thymus weight and volume of the animals from groups D and E were almost normal. Slight atrophy was also detected in the calves in these groups. Histological changes and Ki67 immunostaining revealed a large number of positive lymphoid cells, mostly in the cortical area, associated with higher expression of apoptosis in the medulla compared with controls. This demonstrated that the thymus of beef cattle is still able to regenerate following DMT administration.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
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