Veterinary immunology and immunopathology

Effect of dexamethasone on bacteriostatic activity of turkey monocytes and implications for food safety.

PMID 26099808


Stress has been shown to affect the immune system of turkeys making them more susceptible to bacterial infections. Five-week-old male and female turkeys were treated with 3 intra-muscular injections of dexamethasone (Dex) at 0, 0.5 and 2.0mg/kg body weight. Twenty-four hours after the third injection birds were bled and white blood cell (WBC) differentials and bacteriostatic activity of monocytes were measured. Dex at both 0.5 and 2.0mg/kg decreased phagocytic activity in females only. Bacteriostatic activity was decreased at both concentrations of Dex at 8 and 16 h post-infection in both sexes and was lower in males as compared to females. Total WBC counts were increased in females at both concentrations of Dex whereas male total WBC counts were unaffected. Both males and females had an increase in the heterophil to lymphocyte ratio. Within the same study, replicate pens of turkeys were challenged with intra-air sac inoculation of 100 cfu of Escherichia coli. Isolation of E. coli was significantly increased by both Dex and E. coli challenge, but there were no differences between sexes. These results suggest that stress can compromise the bacteriostatic activity of turkey monocytes and increase bacterial colonization of blood and tissues, potentially affecting food safety.