Comparative expression of host defense peptides in turkey poults

Shaimaa K. Hamad, Sungwon Kim, Samer W. El-kadi, Eric A. Wong, Rami A. Dalloul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Host defense peptides (HDPs) are a large group of small, positively charged peptides that play an important role in innate immunity, particularly at early ages when other components of the immune system have not fully developed. There are 3 classes of avian HDPs: avian beta defensins (AvBDs), cathelicidins (Cath), and liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide 2 (LEAP-2). The objective was to compare expression of HDP mRNAs in male turkey poults at day of hatch (d 0), d 7, d 14, d 21 and d 28 from the thymus, spleen, bursa, duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The expression of AvBD1, AvBD2, AvBD8, AvBD9, AvBD10, AvBD13, Cath2, Cath3, and LEAP-2 mRNA was measured using qPCR (n = 6 birds/tissue/age). Data were analyzed by one-way ANOVA and Tukey's test, and significance considered at P < 0.05. AvBDs and Caths exhibited greater expression in immune organs (thymus, spleen, and bursa) than intestinal tissues. In the thymus, expression of all AvBDs examined, except AvBD8, showed an increase from d 0 to d 21. In the spleen, AvBD1 and AvBD2 exhibited reduced expression from d 0 to d 7 and low expression thereafter. In the intestine, AVBD1, AVBD8, and AvBD13 increased expression from d 0 to d 28 in the duodenum, while AvBD10 showed the greatest expression at d 0 that declined to d 7 and stayed low thereafter in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. Cath2 and Cath3 demonstrated the highest expression in the spleen, which was greatest at d 0 then declined to d 7 through d 28. Conversely, LEAP-2 showed greater expression in the intestinal tissues than in the immune organs. LEAP-2 expression was upregulated from d 0 to d 7 and then remained elevated from d 7 through d 14 in the duodenum. In the jejunum, LEAP-2 increased from d 0 to d 21 and d 28. Understanding the differential expression of HDPs could reveal the innate immune status of turkey poults, and may subsequently allow improvement of their health through appropriate mitigation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2083-2090
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number7
Early online date22 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • HDPs
  • turkeys
  • innate immunity
  • avian beta-defensins
  • LEAP-2


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