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Dev Comp Immunol. 2000 Mar-Apr;24(2-3):325-42.

Immunity, vaccination and the avian intestinal tract.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


Defence of the intestinal mucosal surface from enteric pathogens is initially mediated by secretory IgA (SIgA). As oral immunization of non-replicating antigen induces minimal SIgA antibody titers, novel immunization strategies which selectively induce mucosal immune responses in mammals are now being assessed in chickens. The strategies reviewed include the route of antigen delivery, the incorporation of antigenic components in delivery vehicles, the inclusion of immunomodulators in the vaccine formula or in the diet, and manipulation of intestinal microflora. The differences in anatomical organization and immunological mechanisms between birds and mammals must be considered when manipulating avian intestinal immunity with the latest immunotechnologies developed for mammals. Our knowledge of the function and functioning of the avian mucosal system is discussed. Progress in our understanding of this system, the location of precursor IgA B cells and antigen sampling by these sites is not as advanced as knowledge of the mammalian system, highlighting the need for ongoing research into the avian application of novel vaccination strategies.

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