Defensins are fundamental components of innate immune response. Current data favor that defensins play vital roles on both innate and adaptive immune responses. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the chicken beta-defensin-1 (also named avian beta-defensin-1, AvBD1) has the potent adjuvant effects on DNA vaccine encoding IBDV VP2 gene, when genetically fused with VP2 gene. The recombinant vectors pcDNA3.1(+)-VP2 and pcDNA3.1(+)-AvBD1-VP2 were constructed as the DNA vaccines. Four groups of 14-day-old chickens were intramuscularly injected with PBS buffer, empty vector pcDNA3.1(+), recombinant pcDNA3.1(+)-VP2 and pcDNA3.1(+)-AvBD1-VP2. Results showed that VP2-specific antibody levels significantly increased following two recombinant DNA vaccine administrations (p<0.05), compared with the group of PBS and empty vector. The antibody level of group immunized with pcDNA3.1(+)-AvBD1-VP2 was significantly higher than that of group immunized with pcDNA3.1(+)-VP2 after second vaccination (p<0.05). The percentages of CD3+, CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subtypes between groups of pcDNA3.1(+)-VP2 and pcDNA3.1(+)-AvBD1-VP2 obtained significantly different (p<0.05), the latter was higher, at 7 days post-booster. The protection from IBD challenged by immunized chickens with DNA vaccines encoding IBDV VP2 gene alone was lower than that by immunized IBDV VP2 gene together with AvBD1 gene. The results indicated that AvBD1 has an adjuvant effects on improvement the IBDV VP2-DNA vaccine effectiveness.
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