Campylobacter jejuni is a predominant cause of gastroenteritis in humans but rather harmless in chickens. The basis of this difference is unknown. We investigated the effect of the chicken immune defense on the behavior of C. jejuni using glucocorticoid (GC)-treated and mock-treated 17-day old Ross 308 chicken bearing in mind that GCs have immunosuppressive effects and dampen the innate immune response. The effect of GC administration on the behavior of C. jejuni was compared with that on infection with Salmonella Enteritidis to address possible microbe-associated differences. Our results revealed that GC treatment fastened the intestinal colonization of C. jejuni (p <0.001) and enhanced its dissemination to the liver (p = 0.007). The effect of GC on intestinal colonization of S. Enteritidis was less pronounced (p = 0.033) but GC did speed up the spread of this pathogen to the liver (p <0.001). Cytokine transcript analysis showed an up to 30-fold reduction in baseline levels of IL-8 mRNA in the cecal (but not spleen) tissue at Day 1 after GC treatment (p <0.005). Challenge with C. jejuni strongly increased intestinal IL-8, IL-6, and iNOS transcript levels in the non-GC treated animals but not in the GC-treated birds (P <0.005). In vitro assays with chicken macrophages showed that GC dampened the TLR agonist- and C. jejuni induced-inflammatory gene transcription and production of nitric oxide (P <0.005). Together, the results support the hypothesis that C. jejuni has the intrinsic ability to invade chicken tissue and that an effective innate immune response may limit its invasive behavior.
- innate immunity
- Toll-like receptor