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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2001 May;21(5):287-96.

Cellular responses in chickens treated with IFN-alpha orally or inoculated with recombinant Marek's disease virus expressing IFN-alpha.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Mammalian type I interferons (IFN-alpha/beta) are potent mediators of innate antiviral immune responses, in particular through enhancement of natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity. Recently, chicken IFN-alpha (ChIFN-alpha) has been identified and shown to ameliorate Newcastle disease virus (NDV) infection when given to chickens at relatively high concentrations in the drinking water. In this report, the effect of recombinant ChIFN-alpha (rChIFN-alpha) on NK cell cytotoxicity was examined using (51)Cr-release assays. NK cell cytotoxic activity was also analyzed following inoculation with attenuated Marek's disease virus (MDV) serotype 1 strain R2/23 and a recombinant MDV (parent strain R2/23)-expressing ChIFN-alpha [rMDV(IFN-alpha)]. Treatment of chickens with high doses of rChIFN-alpha in the drinking water significantly decreased NK cell cytotoxicity compared with untreated chickens over a 7-day period. Inoculation of chickens with R2/23 significantly decreased NK cell cytotoxicity as well, whereas the rMDV(IFN-alpha) had no effect on NK cell cytotoxicity. Treatment of chicken embryo cell cultures with rChIFN-alpha inhibited replication of the very virulent MDV RB-1B strain in vitro, and oral treatment of chickens with rChIFN-alpha reduced MDV R2/23 replication in vivo.

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