Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Non-specific innate immunity against Escherichia coli infection in white leghorn chickens

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  • This research was initiated to investigate a high mortality problem occurring in market age broiler chickens in Oregon. Initial field investigations revealed that mortality was due to the systemic bacterial infections. The subsequent laboratory experiments suggested that suppressed short-term, non-specific innate immunity rather than pathogenic properties of bacteria caused the systemic bacterial infection. The objectives of research described were to analyze and characterize the type of innate immunity in chickens by developing a model; analyzing this immunity with artificial induction by inactive agents; and demonstrating the involvement of the type of immunity in viral infection. Escherichia coli strain 01:K1 causes systemic infection in chickens after the intra-airsac inoculation. Levels of immunity can be determined by the viable organism count in the internal organs of infected birds. Bacterial counts were significantly lower in the liver or spleen of vaccinated birds at 6, 12 or 24 hrs after inoculation than in controls. An oil-adjuvanted vaccine showed some deterioration in its immunogenicity after prolonged storage or heating at 100 C. Non-specific innate immunity induced by intravenous injection of inactivated bacteria or LPS, or subcutaneous injection of silver nitrate induced significant immunity in 24 hours against infection with E. coli based on viable bacterial counts in the spleen. Nonspecific immunity induced by formalin-inactivated Staphylococcus aureus cell suspension (FSA) was comparable to specific immunity induced by a specific vaccine as determined by cumulative mortality during 7 days and the viable bacterial count in the spleen after infection. This nonspecific immunity appeared as early as 6 hours and lasted for less than 72 hours after stimulation. Birds vaccinated with NDV vaccines induced significant protection against challenge exposure with 01:K1 strain for a period of 2-8 days post vaccination. Secondary NDV vaccination administered 14 days later failed to induce immunity against E. coli when infected 1 or 5 days after the vaccination. Treatment with cold stress or corticosterone suppressed the induction of nonspecific immunity by FSA or NDV vaccination. These results indicate that nonspecific innate immunity against E. coli in chickens can be induced by injection of killed bacteria or primary NDV vaccination.
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