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Protein levels and quality in cat food can vary significantly and might affect immune function in various ways. In the present study, 3 diets with a low protein quality (LQ) and 3 diets with a high protein quality (HQ) were offered to 10 healthy adult cats for 6 weeks each, using a randomized cross-over design. The LQ and HQ diets differed in the collagen content and had low (36.7% and 36.2%), medium (45.0% and 43.3%) and high (56.1% and 54.9%) protein levels. At the end of each feeding period, blood was collected for phenotyping of leukocyte subsets, lymphocyte proliferation assay and cytokine measurements, phagocytosis assay and differential blood count. The results demonstrated no group differences for numbers of CD4+CD8-, CD4+CD8+, CD4-CD8+, MHCII+, CD21+, SWC3+ and CD14+ cells in the blood of the cats. Proliferative activity of lymphocytes when stimulated with pokeweed mitogen, Concanavalin A and Phytohemagglutinin, M form did not differ depending on the dietary protein concentration and quality. Concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interferon gamma in the supernatant of the proliferation assay were also not affected by the dietary treatment. Blood monocyte phagocytic activity was higher (P = 0.048) and cell numbers of eosinophilic granulocytes in the blood were lower (P = 0.047) when cats were fed the low protein diets. In conclusion, only a few differences in feline immune cell populations and activity depending on dietary protein supply could be detected. However, the observed increase of eosinophilic granulocytes by a higher protein intake indicates an activation of immunological mechanisms and requires further investigation.
PMID: 28072882 [PubMed - in process]