Effects of early life dextran sulfate sodium administration on pathology and immune response in broilers and layers

K. Simon*, J.A.J. Arts, G. De Vries Reilingh, B. Kemp, A. Lammers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Intestinal pathology early in life may affect immune development and therefore immune responses later in life. Dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) induces colitis in rodents and is a widely used model for inflammatory bowel diseases. The present study investigated DSS as a model for early life intestinal pathology and its consequences on intestinal pathology, ileal cytokine, and immunoglobulin mRNA expression levels as well as the antibody response towards an immunological challenge later in life in chickens. Broiler and layer chicks received 2.5% DSS in drinking water during d 11 through d 18 post hatch or plain drinking water as a control. As an immunological challenge all birds received a combination of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and human serum albumin (HuSA) intramuscularly (i.m.) at d 35, and antibody titers against LPS, HuSA, and keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) were determined to investigate effects of intestinal inflammation early in life on humoral immunity later in life. DSS treated birds showed a decrease in BW from which broilers quickly recovered, but which persisted for several weeks in layers. Histological examination of intestinal samples showed symptoms similar to those in rodents, including shortening and loss of villi and crypts as well as damage of the epithelial cell layer of different parts of the intestine. Effects of DSS on intestinal morphology were less severe in broilers that also showed a lower mortality in response to DSS than layers. No effect of DSS on ileal cytokine expression levels could be observed, but ileal immunoglobulin expression levels were decreased in DSS treated broilers that also showed lower antibody titers against LPS in response to the challenge. In conclusion, DSS may serve as a model for intestinal pathology early in life, although more research on the appropriate dose is necessary and is likely to differ between breeds. Results from the present study could indicate that broilers are less susceptible to DSS compared with layers or have a better capacity to recover from intestinal pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1529-1542
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Chicken
  • DSS
  • Immune response
  • Intestinal homeostasis

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