Effects of early life conditions on immunity in broilers and layers

K. Simon

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

ABSTRACT

The course for later life immune responses is set early in life during the developmental phase of the immune system and accordingly disturbances of immune development may have long-term consequences for host health. In terms of immune activation and immune development the gut microbiota play an important role and consequently disturbances of early life microbial colonization may affect host immunity later in life. In chickens, disturbances of microbial colonization may be caused by various early life conditions which in turn may affect robustness of the chick in the long term. The aim of this thesis was to assess the effects of several early life factors including time of access to feed post hatch (immediately or 72 hours delayed), housing conditions, antibiotic treatment, and intestinal pathology on the intestinal microbiota composition, immune development, and specific antibody response later in life in chickens. Additionally, possible differences between broilers and layers were taken into account as unintentional co-selection of immunological traits may have taken place during the selection process for different production traits. Delayed access to feed and administration of antibiotics early in life led to a shift in early life microbiota composition, which seemed to be restored quite quickly in both cases. Microbiota composition in response to DSS was not investigated, but based on rodent studies was expected to be influenced. Ileal immune development, which was assessed in terms of relative cytokine and immunoglobulin mRNA expression levels was not affected by feeding strategy post hatch (early vs. delayed), but a downregulation of ileal immunoglobulin expression levels could be observed during DSS treatment. All early life factors investigated affected the specific antibody response towards an immunological challenge later in life. Interestingly, there seemed to be an interaction between immediate access to feed post hatch and immune responsiveness towards the environment, thus early feeding may influence the adaptive capacity of chickens in different environments. Regarding the differences between breeds it is interesting to note that broilers seem to have developed a more humoral oriented immune strategy, while layers seem to react in a more pro-inflammatory way. Taken together, results suggested that early life conditions may influence priming of the immune system during its developmental phase, leading to altered antibody responses later in life. Furthermore, broilers and layers seem to have developed different immune strategies. Early life conditions as well as possible differences between breeds should therefore be taken into account in future immunological studies.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Kemp, Bas, Promotor
  • Lammers, Aart, Co-promotor
Award date14 Apr 2016
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789462576711
Electronic ISBNs9789462576711
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • broilers
  • hens
  • ontogeny
  • poultry feeding
  • chicken housing
  • immune response
  • antibiotics
  • gastrointestinal microbiota
  • immunology
  • immunity

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of early life conditions on immunity in broilers and layers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this