Selective breeding for high natural antibody level increases resistance to avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) in chickens

T.V.L. Berghof*, M.G.R. Matthijs, J.A.J. Arts, H. Bovenhuis, R.M. Dwars, J.J. van der Poel, M.H.P.W. Visker, H.K. Parmentier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)-binding natural antibody (NAb) titers in chickens are heritable, and higher levels have previously been associated with a higher survival. This suggests that selective breeding for higher NAb levels might increase survival by means of improved general disease resistance. Chickens were divergently selected and bred for total NAb levels binding KLH at 16 weeks of age for six generations, resulting in a High NAb selection line and a Low NAb selection line. To for test differences in disease resistance, chickens were challenged with avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) in two separate experiments. Chickens at 8 days of age received one of four intratracheal inoculations of 0.2 mL phosphate buffered saline (PBS): 1) mock inoculate, 2) with 0.2 mL PBS containing 108.20 colony-forming units (CFU)/mL APEC, 3) with 0.2 mL PBS containing 106.64 CFU/mL APEC, and 4) with 0.2 mL PBS containing 107.55 CFU/mL APEC. Mortality was recorded during 7 days post inoculation. Overall, 50–60% reduced mortality was observed in the High line compared to the Low line for all APEC doses. In addition, morbidity was determined of the surviving chickens at 15 days of age. The High line had lower morbidity scores compared to the Low line. We conclude that selective breeding for high KLH-binding NAb levels at 16 weeks of age increase APEC resistance in early life. This study and previous studies support the hypothesis that KLH-binding NAb might be used as an indicator trait for to selective breed for general disease resistance in an antigen non-specific fashion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-57
JournalDevelopmental and Comparative Immunology
Volume93
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Keywords

  • APEC
  • Breeding
  • Chicken
  • Disease resistance
  • Escherichia coli
  • Natural antibody

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