Poultry science

Serum ovotransferrin as a biomarker of inflammatory diseases in chickens.

PMID 19762858


Infectious and metabolic disorders are common in poultry and cause stress, poor performance, and mortality that results in considerable economic loss. Identifying the nature of stress in chickens will assist the development of appropriate measures to improve health and welfare. Acute phase proteins are hepatic proteins, the blood concentrations of which change significantly in the event of many health problems including inflammation and physical injuries. Thus, acute phase proteins are used as nonspecific diagnostic markers for various health disorders. Our previous studies showed that serum ovotransferrin (OVT) is an acute phase protein in chickens. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated whether OVT concentration can be a marker of physiological stress using sera from chickens with different infectious and metabolic disorders. A competitive enzyme immunoassay was developed to measure serum OVT concentrations. The results show that with experimentally induced pulmonary hypertension syndrome and tibial dyschondroplasia, there were no significant changes in OVT levels compared with matched controls. In contrast, when chickens were infected with microbes such as the bacterium Escherichia coli, or protozoan parasites such as Eimeria maxima and Eimeria tenella, there was a significant increase in the levels of OVT in the serum. Chickens with spontaneous autoimmune vitiligo also showed a significant increase in blood OVT levels. These studies suggest that blood OVT concentration is modulated under inflammatory and microbial stress and can therefore be used as a diagnostic marker of infection and inflammation in chickens.