Selection for pro-inflammatory mediators produces chickens more resistant toClostridium perfringens-induced necrotic enteritis

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Abstract

We developed a novel selection method based on an inherently high and low phenotype of pro-inflammatory mediators and produced “high” and “low” line chickens. We have shown high line birds are more resistant to Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis and Eimeria tenella compared to the low line. Clostridium perfringens is the fourth leading cause of bacterial-induced foodborne illness, and is also an economically important poultry pathogen and known etiologic agent of necrotic enteritis (NE). The objective of this study was to determine if high line birds were also more resistant to NE than low line birds using an established model. Birds were reared in floor pens and challenges were conducted twice (high line = 25/trial, 50 birds total; low line = 26/trial, 52 birds total). Day-old chicks were provided a 55% wheat-corn-based un-medicated starter diet. A bursal disease vaccine was administered at 10× the recommended dose via the ocular route at 14-d-of-age. Birds were challenged daily for 3 d beginning at 16-d-of-age by oral gavage (3 mL) with 107 colony forming units (cfu) of C. perfringens/mL then necropsied at 21-d-of-age. All birds had sections of the intestine examined and scored for lesions while the first 10 necropsied also had gut content collected for C. perfringens enumeration. Chickens from the high line were more resistant to C. perfringens-induced NE pathology compared to the low line, as indicated by reduced lesion scores. Ninety percent of the high line birds had lesions of zero or one compared to 67% of the low line birds. Wilcoxon rank sum test showed significantly higher lesion scores in the low line birds compared to the high line (P < 0.0001). There were no differences in the C. perfringens recovered (P = 0.83). These data provide additional validation and support selection based on elevated levels of pro-inflammatory mediators produces chickens with increased resistance against foodborne and poultry pathogens.

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