Response of embryonic chicken lymphoid cells to infectious bursal disease virus

Mahesh Khatri, Jagdev M. Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We exposed chicken embryos at embryonation day 18 (ED18) to a classical virulent infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV; cIBDV) and an attenuated strain of IBDV (aIBDV) and examined the response of embryonic lymphoid cells to these viruses. Embryos responded much more vigorously to cIBDV than to aIBDV. Following cIBDV exposure, embryonic thymus and bursa showed cellular destruction, enhanced rate of apoptosis and presence of viral proteins detectable by immunohistochemistry. At ED21, thymocytes from cIBDV-exposed embryos were severely deficient (P < 0.05) in responding to stimulation in vitro with mitogens containing mouse anti-chicken CD28 mAb, PMA and ionomycin. Because purified CD3+ T cells were also refractory to the mitogens, the mitogenic inhibition of embryonic thymocytes was not attributed to the presence of non-T cell suppressors. Cell suspensions prepared from embryonic thymus and spleen had upregulated gene expression of IFN-γ and IL-6 cytokines and of chemokine IL-8. In sharp contrast to cIBDV, embryos exposed to aIBDV had minimal detectable changes in the thymus and bursa, although the rate of apoptosis was enhanced in the thymus. Viral antigen was not detectable in the bursa until after hatch. Thymocytes from these embryos responded vigorously to the mitogens, similar to the response of thymocytes from unexposed control embryos. In addition, aIBDV induced a modest gene upregulation of IFN-γ, IL-6 and IL-8 in thymus and spleen. Relatively modest response of the embryo to aIBDV is significant because in ovo vaccination with aIBDV-type viruses and several other non-pathogenic viruses result in protective immunity that is well pronounced at hatch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-324
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2009


  • Apoptosis
  • Cytokines
  • IBDV
  • In ovo
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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