H9N2-specific IgG and CD4+CD25+ T cells in broilers fed a diet supplemented with organic acids
Organic acids have long been known for their beneficial effects on growth performance in domestic animals. However, their impact on immune responses against viral antigens in chickens is unclear. The present study aimed to investigate immunological parameters in broilers immunized with a H9N2 vaccine and/or fed a diet containing organic acids (citric, formic, and lactic acids). We allotted 1-day-old broilers into 4 groups: control (C), fed a diet supplemented with organic acids (O), administered a H9N2 vaccine (V), and fed a diet supplemented with organic acids and administered a H9N2 vaccine (OV). Blood and spleen samples were taken at 2, 7 and 14 d post vaccination (DPV). At 14 DPV, total and H9N2-specific IgG levels were significantly lower in the OV group than in the V group. However, it was intriguing to observe that at 2 DPV, the percentage of CD4+CD25+ T cells was significantly higher in the OV group than in the other groups, indicating the potential induction of regulatory T cells by organic acids. In contrast, at 2 DPV, the percentage of CD4+CD28+ T cells were significantly lower in the OV group than in the other groups, suggesting that CD28 molecules are down-regulated by the treatment. The expression of CD28 on CD4+ T cells, up-regulated by the stimulation with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and ionomycin (Iono), was inhibited upon organic acid treatment in OV group. In addition, the proliferation of lymphocytes, stimulated with formalin-inactivated H9N2, was significantly higher in the V group than in the OV group. Alpha 1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) production was significantly lower in the OV group than in the V group, suggesting that the organic acids inhibited the inflammation caused by the vaccination. Overall, induction of regulatory CD4+CD25+ T cells, coinciding with the decrease of H9N2-specific antibodies, was observed in broilers fed organic acids.