Selection of broilers with improved innate immune responsiveness to reduce on-farm infection by foodborne pathogens

C.L. Swaggerty, I.Y. Pevzner, H. He, K.J. Genovese, D.J. Nisbet, P. Kaiser, M.H. Kogut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Economic pressure on the modern poultry industry has directed the selection process towards fast-growing broilers that have a reduced feed conversion ratio. Selection based heavily on growth characteristics could adversely affect immune competence leaving chickens more susceptible to disease. Since the innate immune response directs the acquired immune response, efforts to select poultry with an efficient innate immune response would be beneficial. Our laboratories have been evaluating the innate immune system of two parental broiler lines to assess their capacity to protect against multiple infections. We have shown increased in vitro heterophil function corresponds with increased in vivo resistance to Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial infections. Additionally, there are increased mRNA expression levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines in heterophils isolated from resistant lines compared to susceptible lines. Collectively, all data indicate there are measurable differences in innate responsiveness under genetic control. Recently, a small-scale selection trial was begun. We identified sires within a broiler population with higher and/or lower-than-average pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine mRNA expression levels and subsequently utilized small numbers of high-expressing and low-expressing sires to produce progeny with increased or decreased, respectively, pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine profiles. This novel approach should allow us to improve breeding stock by improving the overall immunological responsiveness. This will produce a line of chickens with an effective pro-inflammatory innate immune response that should improve resistance against diverse pathogens, improve responses to vaccines, and increase livability. Ongoing work from this project is providing fundamental information for the development of poultry lines that will be inherently resistant to colonization by pathogenic and food-poisoning microorganisms. Utilization of pathogen-resistant birds by the poultry production industry would significantly enhance the microbiological safety of poultry products reaching the consumer.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)777-783
Number of pages7
JournalFoodborne Pathogens and Disease
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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