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Pathobiology of Heterakis gallinarum mono-infection and co-infection with Histomonas meleagridis in layer chickens

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Little is known about the induction and modulation of gut-associated immune reactions after nematode infection in the chicken. The objective of the present study was to compare the pathogenesis, induction of immune reactions and electrophysiological changes of the gut after mono-infection with Heterakis gallinarum and after dual infection with H. gallinarum and Histomonas meleagridis in layer chickens. In two experiments 3-week-old chickens were inoculated with embryonated H. gallinarum eggs, which were positive for H. meleagridis. While birds of the first experiment were left untreated, those of the second experiment were treated with dimetridazol to prevent H. meleagridis co-infection. Mild to moderate histological lesions and local immune reactions with a significant increase in CD4+, CD8α+, TCRαβ+ and TCRδγ+ cells in the lamina propria and induction of the T-helper type 2 (Th2) cytokine interleukin-13 dominated the H. gallinarum immune response at 2 weeks post infection. Co-infection with H. gallinarum and H. meleagridis induced an increase in mRNA expression of the T-helper type 1 (Th1) cytokine interferon-γ, a decrease in splenic CD4+ cells and severe destruction of the caecal mucosa in association with strong T-cell infiltration in the caecal lamina propria. There was no obvious effect on the chloride secretion of the caecal epithelium, which was investigated once the mucosa had almost recovered from the infection, in either experiment. These results suggest that the local T-cell reactions to nematode infections in chickens may be comparable with mammals and may be shifted from a Th2-dominated to a Th1-dominated response when accompanied by a protozoan infection.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinic for Poultry, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany 2: Department of Animal Sciences, University of Goettingen, Gottingen, Germany 3: Department of Animal Sciences, University of Gottingen, Gottingen, Germany 4: Department of Veterinary Pathology, Freie Universitaet Berlin, Berlin, Germany 5: Institute for Physiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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