Immunoglobulin a as an early humoral responder after mucosal avian coronavirus vaccination

Nichole Orr-Burks, Stephen L. Gulley, Rodrigo A Gallardo, Haroldo Toro, Frederik W. Van Ginkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is a highly contagious coronavirus prevalent in all countries with an extensive poultry industry and continues to cause economic losses. IBV strains of the Ark serotype are highly prevalent in the Southeastern United States despite extensive vaccination. One explanation for this observation is the high genetic variability of IBV. In addition, IBV Ark-type vaccines may induce suboptimal mucosal immune responses, contributing to the prevalence and persistence of the Ark serotype. To test this hypothesis, chickens were ocularly vaccinated with a commercially available live attenuated IBV Ark-Delmarva Poultry Industry vaccine strain and both mucosal and systemic antibody responses were measured. The highest immunoglobulin A (IgA) spot-forming cell (SFC) response was observed in the Harderian glands (HG) and to a lesser extent in the spleen and conjunctiva-associated lymphoid tissues, while a limited IgG SFC response was observed in either the mucosal or systemic immune compartment. Interestingly, the peak IgA SFC response occurred 2 days earlier in spleen than in the head-associated lymphoid tissues despite ocular vaccination. Furthermore, IgA IBV-specific antibody levels significantly increased over controls 3 days earlier in tears and 4 days earlier in plasma than did IgG antibodies. IgA antibody levels were higher than IgG antibody levels throughout the primary response in tears and were similar in magnitude in plasma. In addition, a very early increase in IgA antibodies on day 3 postvaccination was observed in tears; such a response was not observed in plasma. This early increase is consistent with a mucosal T-independent IgA response to IBV. In the secondary response the IBV antibody levels significantly increased over controls starting on day 1 after boosting, and the IgG antibody levels were higher than the IgA antibody levels in both tears and plasma. In summary, ocular vaccination induced higher IgA antibodies in the primary IBV response, while the memory response is dominated by IgG antibodies. Thus, lower mucosal IgA antibody levels are observed upon secondary exposure to IBV, which may contribute to vulnerability of host epithelial cells to infection by IBV and persistence of the Ark serotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
JournalAvian Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Avian coronavirus
  • Headassociated lymphoid tissue
  • IBV-specific antibody kinetics
  • Infectious bronchitis virus
  • Mucosal immunity
  • T-independent IgA response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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