Effect of Dietary Antimicrobials on Immune Status in Broiler Chickens

  • Lee, K.W. (Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service) ;
  • Lillehoj, H.S. (Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service) ;
  • Lee, S.H. (Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service) ;
  • Jang, S.I. (Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service) ;
  • Park, M.S. (Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service) ;
  • Bautista, D.A. (Lasher Poultry Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Delaware) ;
  • Ritter, G.D. (Mountaire Farms Inc.) ;
  • Hong, Y.H. (Department of Animal Science and Technology, Chung-Ang University) ;
  • Siragusa, G.R. (Danisco) ;
  • Lillehoj, E.P. (Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine)
  • Received : 2011.08.03
  • Accepted : 2011.11.07
  • Published : 2012.03.01


This study evaluated the effects of dietary anticoccidial drugs plus antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) on parameters of immunity in commercial broiler chickens. Day-old chicks were raised on used litter from a farm with endemic gangrenous dermatitis to simulate natural pathogen exposure and provided with diets containing decoquinate (DECX) or monensin (COBN) as anticoccidials plus bacitracin methylene disalicylate and roxarsone as AGPs. As a negative control, the chickens were fed with a non-supplemented diet. Immune parameters examined were concanavalin A (ConA)-stimulated spleen cell proliferation, intestine intraepithelial lymphocyte (IEL) and spleen cell subpopulations, and cytokine/chemokine mRNA levels in IELs and spleen cells. ConA-induced proliferation was decreased at 14 d post-hatch in DECX-treated chickens, and increased at 25 and 43 d in COBN-treated animals, compared with untreated controls. In DECX-treated birds, increased percentages of $MHC2^+$ and $CD4^+$ IELS were detected at 14 d, but decreased percentages of these cells were seen at 43 d, compared with untreated controls, while increased $TCR2^+$ IELs were evident at the latter time. Dietary COBN was associated with decreased fractions of $MHC2^+$ and $CD4^+$ IELs and reduced percentages of $MHC2^+$, $BU1^+$, and $TCR1^+$ spleen cells compared with controls. The levels of transcripts for interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-6, IL-17F, IL-13, CXCLi2, interferon-${\gamma}$ (IFN-${\gamma}$), and transforming growth factor${\beta}$4 were elevated in IELs, and those for IL-13, IL-17D, CXCLi2, and IFN-${\gamma}$ were increased in spleen cells, of DECX- and/or COBN-treated chickens compared with untreated controls. By contrast, IL-2 and IL-12 mRNAs in IELs, and IL-4, IL-12, and IL-17F transcripts in spleen cells, were decreased in DECX- and/or COBN-treated chickens compared with controls. These results suggest that DECX or COBN, in combination with bacitracin and roxarsone, modulate the development of the chicken post-hatch immune system.


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