Browse through our Journals...  


Immuno-stimulant effects of Ascorbic Acid in Colostrum-deprived neonatal camels

 S. I. AL-Sultan1

1 Department of Public Health and Animal Husbandry, College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources, King Faisal University, P. O. Box 11647, Al-Ahsa 31982, Saudi Arabia


Deprivation of colostrum has resulted in significantly increased counts of leukocytes, neutrophils and concentration of cortisol and decreased eosinophils, serum ascorbate  and lysosomal enzyme activity. Subcutaneous administration of ascorbic acid at a dose of 10mg/kg body weight daily to colostrum-deprived calves has resulted in increased serum ascorbate and lysosomal activity but has no effects on other parameters. It is suggested that colostrum deprivation may act as stressor factors in calves and that ascorbic acid could produce an immuno-stimulant effect in neonatal camel calves. 

Keywords: Ascorbic acid, colostrum, immuno-stimulant, camel calves.


The survival of the animal depends on the successful body defense against microbial invasions. The camel calf comes to life almost deprived of serum immunoglobulin and depends on colostrum for virtually all its humoral passive immunity (Ghazi et al., 1994). Failure to achieve adequate transfer of passive immunoglobulin has been associated with increased risk of diarrhea, respiratory affections and motility of neonates (McGuire et al., 1975; Rea et al., 1991).

One of most important vitamins found in colostrum is ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is known to enhance immunity in neonates (Dallegri et al., 1980; Thomas and Holt, 1978). This study was carried out to investigate the effects of administration of ascorbic acid on some immune parameters of colostrum–deprived camel calves.


Animals and treatments                  

           Camel neonates were removed from their dams immediately after birth to prevent suckling and ingesting of colostrum. Neonates were assigned randomly to one of three treatment groups. Group 1 neonates (N=9) were left to suckle their dams. Group 2 neonates (N=9) were colostrums deprived but supplemented with 500 ml camel milk given orally at 2 hours interval from 2 to 20 hours after parturition (total of 5 liters/day). In addition neonates were injected subcutaneously with ascorbic acid at a dose of 10 mg/kg body weight. Group 3 neonates (N=9) were colostrum deprived but given camel milk as in group 2. The treatment continued for 10 days.  

Sample collection

           Blood samples were collected at day 10 of age into heparinized tubes for hematology or plain tubes for serum which was separated and stored at -20oC until analysis. White blood cell count was determined by a Counter Model 2B1 Counter (Counter Electrics, Hialeah, FL, USA). The differential leukocyte counts were carried out using blood smears stained with Giemsa and May-Grunwald solutions. Serum lysosome concentrations were measured using Micrococcus lysodiekticus substrate (lysosome reagent kit, Warthington Biochemicals, Co.Freehold , NN, USA) according to manufacturers recommendations (AL-Ankari and Homeida, 1996).

The percentage change in transmission at 510 nm per minute was recorded in spectrophotometer (Hatachi, Japan). Serum insulin was estimated with solid phase radioimmunoassay (Ekpe and Christopherson, 2000) using specific kit (Tkco5, Coat-a-Count, Diagnostic Products Corporation, Lost Angeles, CA, USA.). The intra-assay coefficient of variation was 5.4±0.1% and sensitively was 0.2 μg/dL. Serum ascorbate was determined by the method of Okamura (1980). Standard curves for ascorbate was linear over the range of 0 to 10mg/dL. Recovery of added ascorbic acid was 98%. Data obtained was statistically analysed by student t-test. 


Results of the effects of colostrums deprivation and treatment with ascorbic acid are summarized in Table 1. Significantly (P<0.05) increased counts of leukocyte, neutrophils and decreased eosinophils were demonstrated in colostrums-deprived calves (group 3) and colostrums-deprived calves treated with ascorbic acid (group 2) compared to controls (group 1).

Table 1. Effects of colostrums deprivation and administration of ascorbic acid on leukocytic counts serum ascorbate and lysosomal enzymes in camel calves at 10 days of age.


Group 1(N=9) colostrum fed calves (control)

Group 2(N=9) colostrums deprived –calves and treated with ascorbic acids

Group 3(N=9)

Colostrums-deprived calves

Leukocytes x109/L




Neutrophils x109/L




Lymphocytes x109/L




Eosinophils x 109/L




Lysosome activity μ/L








Cortisol μg/dL





Deprivation of colostrum has resulted in increased leukocytes count, neutrophilia and eosinopenia with little effect on lymphocyte counts suggesting that leukocytosis was mainly due to neutrophilia. Deprivation has resulted in an increased in cortisol and decreased in ascorbate and lysosomal activity. Similar observations on levels of ascorbate and cortisol in neonatal calves have been reported (Salageanu et al., 1971; Wegger and Moustgaard, 1982; Cummins and Brunner, 1991) as results of parturition or disease being stressors. The effect on leukocyte count, ascorbate concentration and decreased lysosomal activity may be ascribed to increased cortisol activity as stressor factor as a result of colostrums deprivation. A link between adrenal glucocorticoid secretion and ascorbate release and uptake has been established (Kipp and Rivers, 1987). Glucocorticoids or stress have been reported to cause leukocytosis, neutrophilia, esosinopenia and decreased ascorbic content of neutrophils (Crandon et al., 1961; Roth and Kaeberle, 1985; Cummins and Brunner, 1991). Serum lysosome activity was considered to be an index of macrophage function (Currie and Eccles, 1976). Similar studies showed that methyl palmitate was associated with reduction of lysosome enzyme release in serum (Koskoshis and Diluzio, 1979). Furthermore, dexamethasone has been shown to impair leukocytic phagocytic function (Jain, 1986; Ross et al.,, 2003).

Administration of ascorbic acid has no effect on leukocyte counts or cortisol levels in colostrums-deprived calves. Similar effects have been reported in dexamethazone –treated cattle (Roth and Kaeborle, 1985). However the injection of ascorbic acid has effectively increased lysosomal concentration, suggesting that the vitamin may produce an immuno-stimulant effect in camel neonates. Indeed, dietary ascorbate supplementation did increase plasma immunoglobulin and stimulate cellular and humoral immunity in a variety of species, indicating a direct effect of ascorbate on the function of cells of the immune system (Li and Lovell, 1985; Prinz et al., 1980; Cummins and Brunner, 1991).    


Al-Ankari AS,& Homeida AM.(1996). Effect of antibacterial growth promoters on the immune system of broiler chicks. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. Oct;53(3-4):277-83.

Cummins K.A. and Brunner C.J. (1991). Effect of calf housing on plasma ascorbate and endocrine and immune function. J. Dairy Sci., 74: 1582-1588.

Currie G.A. and Eccles S.A. (1976). Serum lysosome as marker of host resistance. Br. J. Cancer 33: 51-54.

Dallegri F., Lanzi G., and Patrone F. (1980). Effect of ascorbic acid on neutrophil locomotion. Int.  Arch Allergy Appl. Immunol., 61: 40-45.

Ghazi, S.R., Oryan A. and Pourmizali (1994). Some aspects of microscopic studies of the placentation in the camel. Ant. Histol. Embrol., 23: 337-342.

Grandon JH., Lennihan R., and Mikal S. (1961). Ascorbic acid economy in surgical patients. Ann Ny Acad. Sci., 92: 246-267.

Jain N. C. (1986). The monocyte and macrophages. Schalm's Veterinary Hematology.4th edn., Lea and Fabiger, Philadelphia, USA, pp. 768-789.

James A.Roth and Merlin L.Kaeberle. (1985). In vivo effect of ascorbic acid on neutrophil function in healthy and dexamethazone-treated cattle. Am. J. Vet. Res., 46, No. 12.

Kipp, D.E., and Rivers J.M. (1987). Uptake and release of adrenal ascorbic acid in the guinea pig after injections of ACTH. J.Nutr.Vol.117:1570.

Koskoshis P.L. and Diluzio N.R. (1979). Serum lysosome: an index of macrophage function. J. Teticuloendothelel .Soc.23, 85-89.

Li, T., and Lovell R.T. (1985). Elevated levels of dietary ascorbic acid increased immune responses in channel catfish. J.Nutr., 115: 123.

Liu Zongping (2003). Studies on the hematology and trace element status of adult bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus) in China. Veterinary Research Communication.

McGuire, T.C., Poppie M.J. and Banks, K.L. (1975). Hypo-gamma-globulinemia predisposing to infection in foals. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., 166: 71-75.

Okamura, M. (1980). An improved method for determination of L-ascorbic acid and L-dehydroascorbic acid in blood plasma. Clin. Chim. Acta., 103: 259.


Prinz W., Black J., Gillich G., and Mitchell G., (1980). A systematic study of the effect of vitamin C supplementation on the humoral immune-response in ascorbate –dependent mammals.1.The antibody response to sheep red blood cells (a T-dependent antigen) in guinea pigs. Int. J. Vitamin. Nut. Res., 50: 294.


Rea D.E., Tyler J.W. and Hancock D.D. (1996). Prediction of calf mortality by use of tests for passive transfer of colostral immunoglobulin. J. Am. Vet. Vet. Med. Assoc., 208: 2049-2051. 

Ross R., Nagarajan G., Selvasubramanian S. and Jaya Sundar S. (2003). Restoration of phagocytic function of the reticulo-endothelial system by levamisole in dexamethasone-treated rabbit. Indian Journal of Animal Sciences 73(2): 178-179.


Salageanu, G.D. Curca, I. Ursu, and Batrinn (1971). Hypovitaminosis C in newborn calves with enteropathies .Rev. Zootech. Med. Vet., 21: 57.

Thomas WR., and Holt PG. (1978). Vitamin C and immunity: An assessment of the evidence. Clin. Exp. Immunol., 32: 370-379.

Wegger, I.., and Moustgaard J.(1982). Age related variations in plasma ascorbic acid in calves. K.Vet. Landohojsk. Inst. Steriliteforsk. Arsbert.1982: 16.



First Published February 2008

Copyright Priory Lodge Education Limited 2008

Click on these links to visit our Journals:
 Psychiatry On-Line 
Dentistry On-Line
 |  Vet On-Line | Chest Medicine On-Line 
GP On-Line | Pharmacy On-Line | Anaesthesia On-Line | Medicine On-Line
Family Medical Practice On-Line

Home • Journals • Search • Rules for Authors • Submit a Paper • Sponsor us
Rules for Authors
Submit a Paper
Sponsor Us
priory logo


Default text | Increase text size