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Br Poult Sci. 1996 Sep;37(4):765-78.

Immunisation of chickens to reduce intestinal colonisation with Campylobacter jejuni.

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Department of Agriculture, Energy and Minerals, Victorian Institute of Animal Science, Attwood, Australia.


1. Systemic and intestinal antibody titres were measured in chickens following subcutaneous, intraperitoneal (i.p.), oral (p.o.) and combined i.p./p.o. administration of antigen, in soluble, emulsified or microparticulate form. Antigens tested included keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH), killed Campylobacter jejuni whole cells and purified campylobacter flagellin protein. 2. The effect of immunisation with purified flagellin protein or with killed C. jejuni whole cells in reducing intestinal colonisation was assessed. The ability of newlyhatched chicks to respond to immunisation was limited, possibly because of the immaturity of the immune system rather than maternal suppression of an immune response. Only 5 to 13 birds that were first immunised when 1-d-old with KLH showed a systemic response, even after 4 immunisations, whereas 10 of 11 birds that were first immunised at 24 d-old responded systemically. 3. In an immunisation and challenge experiment, birds that were immunised twice intraperitoneally, at 16 and 29 d-old, with killed C. jejuni whole cells, had fewer C. jejuni, in the caecal contents than unimmunised control birds. This reduction in intestinal colonisation, to less than 2% of bacterial numbers in control birds, was associated with an increase in specific IgG in intestinal secretions. There was no significant increase in specific IgA or IgM in intestinal secretions following immunisation and challenge. 4. These results indicate that immunisation can reduce the level of intestinal infection with C. jejuni. The protection may be enhanced by developing improved methods of immunisation that stimulate production of increased titres of specific antibody in intestinal secretions, particularly specific IgA antibody.

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