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Avian Pathol. 2016 Jun;45(3):275-81. doi: 10.1080/03079457.2016.1150587.

Necrotic enteritis predisposing factors in broiler chickens.

Moore RJ1,2,3.

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a School of Science , RMIT University , Bundoora , Australia.
b Poultry Cooperative Research Centre , University of New England , Armidale , Australia.
c Infection and Immunity Program, Department of Microbiology , Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University , Clayton , Australia.


Necrotic enteritis in chickens develops as a result of infection with pathogenic strains of Clostridium perfringens and the presence of predisposing factors. Predisposing factors include elements that directly change the physical properties of the gut, either damaging the epithelial surface, inducing mucus production, or changing gut transit times; factors that disrupt the gut microbiota; and factors that alter the immune status of birds. In the past research into necrotic enteritis predisposing factors was directed by the simple hypothesis that low-level colonization of C. perfringens commonly occurred within the gut of healthy chickens and the predisposing factors lead to a proliferation of those bacteria to produce disease. More recently, with an increasing understanding of the major virulence factors of C. perfringens and the application of molecular techniques to define different clades of C. perfringens strains, it has become clear that the C. perfringens isolates commonly found in healthy chickens are generally not strains that have the potential to cause disease. Therefore, we need to re-evaluate hypotheses regarding the development of disease, the origin of disease causing isolates of C. perfringens, and the importance of interactions with other C. perfringens strains and with predisposing factors. Many predisposing factors that affect the physical and immunological characteristics of the gastrointestinal tract may also change the resident microbiota. Research directed towards defining the relative importance of each of these different actions of predisposing factors will improve the understanding of disease pathogenesis and may allow refinement of experiment disease models.


Clostridium perfringens; Eimeria; Necrotic enteritis; microbiota; pathogenicity; predisposing factors; virulence

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