Different levels of natural antibodies in chickens divergently selected for specific antibody responses

H.K. Parmentier, A. Lammers, J.J. Hoekman, G. de Vries Reilingh, I.T.A. Zaanen, H.F.J. Savelkoul

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We studied the presence of Natural antibodies in plasma samples from individual birds from selected chicken lines at young and old age. Binding, specificity, and relative affinity to various antigens were determined in plasma from non-immunized female chickens at 5 weeks of age, and in plasma obtained from the same chickens one year later using indirect two-step ELISA. Birds were from three different lines. The lines were divergently selected for either high (H line) or low (L line) antibody titers to Sheep Red Blood Cells at 5 weeks of age, next to a random bred control (C line). Binding of plasma immunoglobulins (Ig) from all three lines was found with chicken-egg-white protein (CEP), ovalbumin (OVA), myoglobin (MYO), thyroglobulin (THYRO), keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), bovine serum albumin (BSA), and transferrin (TRANS). Significantly higher binding to most antigens was found with plasma Ig from adult birds from the H line as compared to plasma Ig from the L line, whereas binding of plasma Ig from C-line birds was in between or similar to the H or L line, respectively. Binding of Ig to all antigens in all three lines was significantly higher in plasma obtained at one year of age as compared to plasma obtained at 5 weeks of age. A competitive ELISA with homologous and heterologous antigens was used for determining specificity of the antigen-binding antibodies. Naive plasma samples were characterized by a broad binding to all antigens tested. Inhibition of binding to specific antigens was possible with a broad range of heterologous antigens, but highest competition of binding was obtained with homologous antigen. Both linear regression analysis of serial dilutions of the plasma Ig binding the antigens, as well as competitive ELISA with homologous antigen indicated that plasma Ig from the H line and plasma Ig from the L line had similar affinity characteristics to the antigens tested with the exception of OVA and KLH. Pooled non-immune plasma from H line birds bound to CEP, OVA, THYRO, TRANS, MYO, KLH, and salt-precipitated extracts and supernatants of extracts from chicken heart, spleen, liver, brain, bursa, thymus, and kidney, respectively, as determined by Western blotting. The increasing presence of antibodies in naive chicken plasma binding heterologous and homologous (tissue) antigens indicates the presence of Natural antibodies in poultry. Apart from age, increasing levels of Natural antibodies may be related with the genetically based magnitude of specific antibody levels in the chicken lines studied. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-49
JournalDevelopmental and Comparative Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • red-blood-cells
  • low humoral responsiveness
  • immune-responses
  • body weights
  • autoantibodies
  • antigens
  • resistance
  • disease
  • humans

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