The Effects of Probiotic and Eimeria on Gut Morphology and Humoral Immunity in Broilers



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Coccidiosis has a negative economic impact on the commercial poultry industry, and probiotics are beneficial bacteria that aid in maintaining healthy gut microflora. We hypothesized that probiotic administration would positively affect gut morphology and increase IgG secretion during an Eimeria challenge, which was evaluated by measuring total chicken IgG and gut morphology (villus height, villus width, villus surface area, crypt depth, villus height to crypt depth ratio and lamina propria thickness). On day-of-hatch, broilers were placed into floor pens with 50 percent pine shavings and 50 percent used litter. The broilers were exposed to Eimeria oocysts via the feed on day 14 and challenged on day 36. On days 6, 22, 36, and 43, tissue samples from the intestine were collected for morphological evaluation, and blood samples were taken to quantify chicken IgG from serum. Data were measured using a factorial ANOVA and main effect means were deemed significant at P ? 0.05. In cases where significant interactions were observed, data was subjected to a one-way ANOVA. All means were separated using a Duncan?s Multiple Range Test. On day 6 in the duodenum, a significant interaction was observed regarding vaccination and probiotic administration (Coccivac?-B, Intervet/Schlering-Plough Animal Health/Merck and Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ). Villus height to crypt depth ratio decreased in ionophore treated birds compared to control birds in the duodenum and lower ileum on day 6, 36, and 43. Villus crypt depth in vaccinated birds decreased in the duodenum after the challenge. On day 43, the ionophore treated birds had less villus height and surface area compared to control and vaccinated birds, while lamina propria thickness increased in the duodenum, and non probiotic birds had longer villi than probiotic birds. On day 22, vaccinated birds had significantly increased chicken IgG levels compared to the control and ionophore birds, and the non probiotic birds had significantly increased IgG secretion compared to probiotic fed birds. On day 36, the ionophore birds had significantly increased levels of IgG compared to the control birds, which could also support that the ionophore delayed exposure to the parasite. These results suggest that gut morphology and humoral immunity are affected by probiotic administration, coccidiosis vaccination, ionophore application and Eimeria challenge. Both the day 43 morphology results and day 36 chicken IgG results for the ionophore treated birds demonstrates that ionophore administration delays exposure of the avian gut to invasive coccidia. More research is necessary to evaluate how probiotics influence coccidiosis vaccination and humoral immunity, so that probiotics may be used to improve the effectiveness of coccidiosis vaccination and to evaluate if probiotics aid in ameliorating the effects of an Eimeria infection.