Poultry science

Influence of in-feed virginiamycin on the systemic and mucosal antibody response of chickens.

PMID 18809861


Subtherapeutic and prophylactic doses of virginiamycin are capable of altering the intestinal microbiota as well as increasing several growth parameters in chickens. In spite of the fact that the microbiota plays a role in shaping the host's immune system, little information is available on the effects of in-feed antibiotics on the chicken immune system. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of an antibiotic, virginiamycin, on the development of antibody responses. Chickens were fed diets containing no antibiotics, along with either subtherapeutic (11 ppm) or prophylactic (22 ppm) doses of virginiamycin. Chickens were then immunized with keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and sheep red blood cells systemically, and with BSA and KLH orally. Although antibodies were detected against BSA in the intestinal contents of birds that were orally immunized, there was no difference among different treatment groups. Systemic IgG, and to a lesser extent IgM, antibody responses to KLH were greater (P < 0.05) in birds fed a diet containing 11 or 22 ppm of virginiamycin compared with control birds fed no antibiotic. No treatment effect was found in the sheep red blood cell-immunized birds. Results of the present study implicate virginiamycin in enhancing antibody responses to some antigens in chickens. Further studies are required to determine to what extent these effects on antibody response are mediated through changes in the composition of the microbiota.

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H7017 Hemocyanin from Megathura crenulata (keyhole limpet)