Dietary selenium supplementation enhances antiviral immunity in chickens challenged with low pathogenic avian influenza virus subtype H9N2

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2019 Jan:207:62-68. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2018.12.002. Epub 2018 Dec 13.


Selenium supplementation in poultry feeds has been known to have beneficial effects on the bird health and performance; however antiviral effects of selenium have remained largely unknown. In this study, we have evaluated the effects of supplementation of chicken diets with organic (Selenium Enriched Yeast; SEY) and inorganic selenium (Sodium Selenite; SS) on low pathogenicity avian influenza virus (H9N2) shedding in the cloacal and oropharyngeal swab samples as well as examined the expression of immune related genes. Chickens were fed two doses (High- 0.30 mg/kg of feed; Low- 0.15 mg/kg of feed) of selenium supplementation for 2 weeks followed by low pathogenicity avian influenza virus challenge. Our results showed that the cloacal shedding of virus in all the selenium supplemented groups was significantly lower when compared to the non-supplemented control groups. In addition, the oropharyngeal shedding of virus in chickens fed with organic selenium supplementation was significantly lower than that in the chickens that received either inorganic selenium supplemented feed or controls. Furthermore, the expression of interferon stimulated genes (Viperin, OAS: 2'-5' oligoadenylate synthetase and MDA5: melanoma differentiation-associated gene) in the cecal tonsils was significantly elevated in the selenium treated groups when compared to controls. Additionally, a significantly higher transcription of interferon (IFN)-α, IFN-β and IFN-γ genes in the cecal tonsils and spleens of chickens receiving SEY-L and SS-H supplemented feed was also observed at post virus challenge time points compared to untreated controls. The results of this study demonstrated that supplementation of chicken diets with selenium, can enhance antiviral defense and thus, may have a beneficial effect in controlling viral infections in poultry.

Keywords: Avian influenza; Chicken; Interferon; Interferon stimulated gene; Selenium.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / immunology
  • Chickens / virology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Influenza A Virus, H9N2 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza A Virus, H9N2 Subtype / pathogenicity
  • Influenza in Birds / immunology*
  • Influenza in Birds / prevention & control
  • Interferons / metabolism
  • Pharynx / virology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / pharmacology*
  • Spleen / virology
  • Virus Shedding / drug effects


  • Interferons
  • Selenium