Age-related functional changes in the follicle-associated epithelium of the bursa of Fabricius in Shaver cockerels
A study of the age-related functions of immunologically important components of the bursa of Fabricilns in Shaver cockerels showed that endocytosis of carbon particles by the specialised follicle-associated epithelium was at a high level from hatching until 5 weeks of age and thereafter declined until at 18 weeks it could no longer be detected. The follicle-associated epithelium had marked non-specific esterase activity during the first 15 weeks of life as determined by a standard acid alpha-naphthyl acetate esterase method. The absolute weight of the bursa was at a maximum at 9 to 10 weeks. Involution began before 14 weeks and was complete by 22 weeks. The results indicate that the critical period for the bursa in regard to acquiring immunity from either local vaccination or environmental challenge is likely to be within the first five weeks of life.