Antibody responses and morbidity following infection with infectious bronchitis virus and challenge with Escherichia coli, in lines divergently selected on antibody response

R. Yunis, A. Ben-David, E. D. Heller, A. Cahaner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


We evaluated the association between antibody (Ab) production and disease resistance. A controlled-challenge protocol was developed to mimic natural infection and to yield a higher rate of mortality following Escherichia coli (EC) challenge. Chicks were first infected with infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) by injecting a high dose of vaccine (attenuated virus) into their air sacs and then were infected with pathogenic EC introduced intratracheally. The experimental population consisted of lines divergently selected for high (HH) or low (LL) Ab response to EC vaccination, an HH x LL cross (HL), and commercial broilers (CC). When chicks were vaccinated with EC vaccine, mean Ab titer 15 d post-EC challenge was threefold higher in HH than LL lines, but both lines exhibited very low mortality (∼2%). When chicks were not vaccinated prior to EC challenge, high mortality (8 to 20%) occurred in the slow-growing HH, LL, and HL lines, and much higher mortality (∼40%) occurred among the CC broilers that were 38% heavier than the HH, LL, and HL lines. Mean level of Ab to EC, 7 d after EC challenge, was about twofold higher in HH vs. LL chicks and intermediate in HL and CC chicks. Within each line, Ab levels were higher in chicks exhibiting colibacillosis than in healthy ones, suggesting that these Ab were produced as a result of ongoing infection but were too late to fully prevent morbidity and mortality. These results indicate that rapid growth rate substantially reduces broiler viability, whereas Ab levels produced in response to acute pathogenic challenge without prior vaccination do not contribute to disease resistance. Among the relatively slow-growing lines, mortality was about twofold higher in HH than in LL lines. This finding may confirm previous reports that without prior vaccination, high Ab response to acute challenge increases consequent mortality; alternatively, the LL line may be superior in nonspecific defense mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes



  • Antibody response
  • Challenge
  • Chicken
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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