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Vet Microbiol. 1998 Nov;64(1):39-50.

The specificity of antibody in chickens immunised to reduce intestinal colonisation with Campylobacter jejuni.

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Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Mascot, NSW.


Poultry consumption has been identified as a major risk factor for human infection with Campylobacter jejuni in developed countries. C. jejuni is present in the gastrointestinal tract of broiler chickens at the time of slaughter, and faecal contamination of carcases during processing results in significant campylobacter loads on carcases. One approach to reducing the level of carcase contamination with C. jejuni is to control campylobacter infection in broiler chickens. To this end, the study described here investigated the specificity of antibody in serum and intestinal secretions of chickens that had been immunised with campylobacter antigens and then challenged with viable bacteria. The immunodominant antigens in the serum of birds that showed a 2-log reduction in caecal colonisation with C. jejuni included flagellin protein (61-63 Kd) and three additional antigens of 67, 73.5 and 77.5 Kd. Only flagellin and the 67 Kd antigen were recognised by IgG antibody in gastrointestinal secretions of the same birds. Antibody from chickens immunised with purified native flagellin protein recognised flagellin protein and the 67 Kd antigen in Western blots probed with serum, but only the flagellin proteins (61-63 Kd) in Westerns probed with gastrointestinal secretions. Analysis of the specificity of the response to flagellin protein using recombinant clones that expressed regions of the flagellin gene suggests that epitopes in each region of the flagellin protein were immunogenic. Of the immunodominant antigens, only flagellin appeared to be surface-exposed on viable C. jejuni, although conformational epitopes of flagellin appeared to be sensitive to the method of antigen purification. The results of this study suggest that flagellin and possibly the 67 Kd antigen may be valuable for immunological control of intestinal infection with C. jejuni in chickens, but that further work is required to purify these as vaccine candidates by using methods that preserve conformational epitopes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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