We developed and tested a battery of immune function assays on adult European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) exposed to the immunotoxicant cyclophosphamide (CY). Starlings were injected intraperitoneally for three consecutive days with saline or 20 mg/kg CY. Cyclophosphamide did not affect body mass or packed cell volume. However, spleen to body mass ratios and the number of viable spleen cells were lower in CY-treated birds when compared to controls. Peripheral white blood cell numbers were reduced in CY-treated starlings, and the decrease affected all cell types. Phagocytic ability of macrophages cultured from peripheral blood monocytes was impaired in cells from CY-treated birds. Additionally, CY treatment resulted in decreased lymphocyte blastogenesis to the T-cell mitogen Concanavalin A. The hemagglutination response to sheep erythrocytes was lower in birds that had received CY. Thus, these immunological methods detected chemically-induced immune dysfunction in starlings.
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Vol. 30 • No. 3