T-cell responses are supposed to be the major immune reactions in broilers infected with Eimeria. The nature of such T-cell responses is influenced by the species of Eimeria involved, age of the host, amount of parasites and the preceding infection history. In young chicks the intestine is still developing in length while the lymphocyte populations in the gut develop and differentiate. In chicks infected at young age the immune response may be different in quality as compared to responses in adults. We investigated the (T-cell) immune responses of young broilers to a primary Eimeria acervulina infection in relation to the number of parasites used for infection. In our experiment we infected one-day-old broilers with a low (5 x 10(2) oocysts) and a high (5 x 10(4) oocysts) dose of E. acervulina. We used a newly developed species specific real-time PCR to quantify total amount of parasites in the duodenum as the number of oocysts in faeces may not be representative for the exposure of the gut immune system. We characterized T-cell subsets in the duodenum by means of FACS-analyses, lymphocyte proliferation assays with spleen lymphocytes and the mRNA profiles of different cytokines (TGF-beta2, -4, IFN-gamma, IL-2, -6, -8 and -18) in the duodenum by means of real-time PCR. From day 5 p.i. broilers with a high dose of E. acervulina had a significantly lower body weight than the control group. No increase in CD4(+) cells, but a strong increase in CD8(+) cells was observed at days 7 and 9 p.i. in the duodenum of broilers infected with a high dose E. acervulina. IL-8 mRNA responses were observed after infection with low and with high infection doses, but no IFN-gamma and TGF-beta mRNA responses were found in the duodenum. The specific proliferative T-cell responses to a low infectious dose were not significantly different as compared to the control group. In conclusion, based on the kinetics of observed responses a primary infection with a high dose of E. acervulina in one-day-old broilers seems to generate an immune response that shows a peak at the time of oocyst excretion, whereas the immune response to a low dose is less explicit.
- vaccination strategies
- avian coccidiosis