Immunological differences between layer- and broiler-type chickens

M.E. Koenen, A.G. Boonstra-Blom, S.H.M. Jeurissen

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    83 Citations (Scopus)


    In commercial poultry husbandry, alternatives for the use of antibiotics and vaccines are under investigation, which preferably have to be applicable for both layer- and broiler-type chickens. There are indications that the defense mechanisms vary between layer- and broiler-type chickens. Therefore, the difference in immune response between layer- and broiler-type chickens of the same age was investigated, using TNP-KLH (trinitrophenyl-conjugated keyhole limpet hemocyanin) as antigen without adjuvant. First different routes of immunization (intravenously, intramuscular, subcutaneous and ocular) were examined to find out which immunization route gives the highest antibody titers. The intravenous immunization route resulted in higher TNP-specific antibody responses than the other immunization routes tested and therefore this immunization route was used in both following experiments. In order to investigate the optimal dose of antigen needed for immunization, a dose-response curve in broiler- and layer-type chickens was completed. The humoral immune response was measured in serum by a TNP-specific ELISA and the in vitro cellular immune response by an antigen-specific lymphocyte proliferation assay.The antibody response of layer- and broiler-type chickens appeared to differ, not only in optimal dose and response, but also in kinetics of the response itself. Broiler chickens generated higher IgM anti-TNP titers whereas layer-type chickens generated higher IgG anti-TNP titers. This specific antibody response in broiler-type chickens did not last as long as in layer-type chickens. The TNP-specific cellular immune response was detectable in layer-type chickens, but not in broilers. Both types generate a non-specific cellular immune response, although this response in broilers is lower than in layer-type chickens.From these results, we conclude that broilers primarily respond to TNP-KLH with a high IgM antibody response whereas layer-type chickens respond with a high IgG response. In addition, the cellular response of layer-type chickens is much higher than the response of broilers. The results suggest that broilers are specialized in the production of a strong short-term humoral response and layer-type chickens in a long-term humoral response in combination with a strong cellular response, which is in conformity with their life expectancy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-56
    JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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