Flow cytometric immune profiling of specific-pathogen-free chickens before and after infectious challenges

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2012 Jan 15;145(1-2):32-41. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2011.10.004. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Broilers and layer chickens have been intensively selected for production parameters. This selection has affected immune capacity. Consequently, the fine-tuning of immune responses is becoming important for maximum productivity. Flow cytometry is a recurrent technology used for the immunophenotyping of birds. Studies, however, have focused on the mechanism of specific diseases or have used animals whose immunological condition could be biased-by vaccination or environmental stressors, for example. The aim of this study was to evaluate the immune status of specific-pathogen-free birds across different age ranges to characterize the natural changes that occur over time. Additionally, specific-pathogen-free chickens were challenged with four infectious agents, allowing identification of the subpopulations of peripheral blood immune cells that are consistently altered under various conditions. Several lymphocyte subsets vary naturally with aging, so the interpretation of results using animals of different age ranges must proceed with care. Parameters such as CD8(+)CD28(-), CD8αα(+), CD4(+)CD8(+), and CD8(+)TCRVβ1(+) have been shown to be valuable in understanding immune changes during disease. The use of these data allows a determination of the consistency of cytometric parameters under various conditions, which should ease the interpretation of immunophenotyping and the future application of cytometric analysis in the poultry industry.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Birnaviridae Infections / immunology
  • Birnaviridae Infections / veterinary
  • Chickens / immunology*
  • Coccidiosis / immunology
  • Coccidiosis / veterinary
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / veterinary
  • Eimeria / immunology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / veterinary*
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology
  • Immunophenotyping / veterinary
  • Infectious bronchitis virus / immunology
  • Infectious bursal disease virus / immunology
  • Poultry Diseases / immunology*
  • Reference Values
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / immunology
  • Salmonella enteritidis / immunology