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Poult Sci. 2012 Dec;91(12):3091-6. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02546.

Immunomodulatory activity accompanying chicken egg yolk immunoglobulin Y.

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Faculty of Food Sciences, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, ul. Chełmońskiego 37, 51-630 Wrocław, Poland.


Immunity transfer from a mother to the newborn does not depend exclusively on immunoglobulins. Peptides, which are characterized by immunoregulatory properties that accompany IgG(2), known as proline-rich polypeptide complex (PRP), have been discovered for the first time in ovine colostrum. In this report we present new data showing that some immunoregulatory peptides associated with the main immunoglobulin class, IgY, are also present in the avian immune system. Cytokine-inducing activity of particular fractions obtained from ovine colostrum, IgG+ (IgG(2) containing PRP), IgG- (IgG(2) free of PRP), and purified PRP, was compared with that of crude egg yolk IgY (IgY+), additionally purified egg yolk IgY (IgY-), and polypeptides accompanying IgY named Yolkin (Y), using an ex vivo model of whole human blood cells. It was shown that both IgG+ fraction and PRP, but not IgG-, stimulated the whole blood cells to release tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β cytokines. Similar experiments performed with hen's egg IgY preparations showed that IgY+ and Y samples showed higher cytokine-inducing activity than samples additionally purified with the use of size exclusion chromatography (IgY-). The IgY+ at a dose of 100 μg was even more active than the positive lipopolysaccharide control. It was also found that Y is able to stimulate macrophage cell line J774.2 to release nitric oxide. The results obtained suggest that IgY, the main chicken immunoglobulin fraction, is accompanied by additional polypeptides and plays a role of a transporter of biologically active substances, which was observed in the case of colostral IgG.

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