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Erik Jørgensen

Effect of mild heat stress and mild infection pressure on immune responses to an E. coli infection in chickens

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  • Department of Genetics and Biotechnology
  • Department of Animal Health and Bioscience
  • Populationsgenetik og Embryologi
  • Statistik og Beslutningsteori
  • Disease Mechanisms, -Markers and -Prevention
Outdoor or organic farming demands robust chickens that are able to combat common infections before they spread to the flock. Priming the immune system of the chickens early in life with micro-organisms that they will encounter later in life prepares chickens to a life in environments where they are subjected to a more natural level of infection pressure. Also, exposure to non-infectious stressful situations may prepare the immune system to combat infectious challenges. The present study investigated whether the immune system could be primed by applying small doses of infective material to the chicken flock or by exposure to short-term non-infectious stimulation, and whether the effect of those stimuli would depend on the genetic material chosen. The effect of the stimulations was examined on selected immunological variables in two chicken strains, using small amounts of manure and litter from other chickens or short-term heat stress, respectively. After 6 weeks of treatment, all chickens were subjected to an Escherichia coli infection and followed for another 3 weeks. Measures of body weight gain, chicken mannan-binding lectin (cMBL), percentage of CD4+ and MHCII+ lymphocytes, mean fluorescence intensity (m.f.i.) of CD4 on CD4+ cells and MHCII on MHCII+ cells and antibody titres to E. coli were taken. In conclusion, the chickens redistribute lymphocyte populations in peripheral blood in response to potentially infectious agents as well as to stressful non-infectious treatments. Responses to stress situations were dependent on the frequencies of stress exposures and on the chicken breed. This may reflect the superiority of one breed over another in adapting to treatments or in discriminating whether a treatment is harmless or dangerous. However, the differences did not influence the disease resistance to infection with a mixture of E. coli O2, O11 and O78 in the present study
Udgivelsesdato: 10 January
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-274
Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Research areas

  • chicken, E. coli, heatstress, immune response

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