The role of T cells in protection by an inactivated infectious bursal disease virus vaccine

Silke Rautenschlein, H. Y. Yeh, J. M. Sharma

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67 Scopus citations


The current belief is that the humoral immune response plays the principal role in defense against virulent infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV). In this study we used a model, in which chickens were compromised in functional T cells by neonatal thymectomy and Cyclosporin A (TxCsA) treatment, to demonstrate the role of T cells in protective immunity against IBDV. We demonstrated that T cells were necessary to achieve full protection against virulent IBDV. When T cell compromised TxCsA-treated chickens were vaccinated with an inactivated IBDV (iIBDV) vaccine, 91% were not protected against IBDV challenge in comparison to T cell-intact chickens, which had a protection rate of 91%. The iIBDV vaccine induced virus neutralizing (VN) and ELISA antibodies, respectively, in 65 and 5% of TxCsA-treated, and in 100 and 58% of T cell-intact birds. These observations provide evidence that the stimulation of T helper cells is needed for the production of protective antibody levels in iIBDV-vaccinated chickens. Passive administration of VN anti-IBDV antibodies inducing a circulating antibody level of log28 in chickens revealed that the levels of antibodies that protected T cell-intact chickens against virulent IBDV challenge were not protective for TxCsA chickens. These results indicated that antibody alone was not adequate in inducing protection against IBDV in chickens and that T cell-involvement was critical for protection. We propose that the inability of iIBDV to protect TxCsA chickens was due to compromised T cell immunity, functional T helper cells and most likely also cytotoxic T cells are needed in iIBDV vaccine protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 28 2002


  • Chicken
  • IBDV
  • T cells
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • General Veterinary


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