The chicken MHC: Insights into genetic resistance, immunity, and inflammation following infectious bronchitis virus infections

Ana P. da Silva, Rodrigo A. Gallardo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The chicken immune system has provided an immense contribution to basic immunology knowledge by establishing major landmarks and discoveries that defined concepts widely used today. One of many special features on chickens is the presence of a compact and simple major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Despite its simplicity, the chicken MHC maintains the essential counterpart genes of the mammalian MHC, allowing for a strong association to be detected between the MHC and resistance or susceptibility to infectious diseases. This association has been widely studied for several poultry infectious diseases, including infectious bronchitis. In addition to the MHC and its linked genes, other non-MHC loci may play a role in the mechanisms underlying such resistance. It has been reported that innate immune responses, such as macrophage function and inflammation, might be some of the factors driving resistance or susceptibility, consequently influencing the disease outcome in an individual or a population. Information about innate immunity and genetic resistance can be helpful in developing effective preventative measures for diseases such as infectious bronchitis, to which a systemic antibody response is often not associated with disease protection. In this review, we summarize the importance of the chicken MHC in poultry disease resistance, particularly to infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) infections and the role played by innate immunity and inflammation on disease outcome. We highlight how future studies focusing on the MHC and non-MHC genes can potentially bring clarity to observed resistance in some chicken B haplotype lines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number637
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Chicken MHC
  • Genetic resistance
  • IBV
  • Inflammation
  • Innate immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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