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Effect of intravenous endotoxin on blood cell profiles of broilers housed in cages and floor litter environment

Wang, W., Wideman, R.F. Jr., Chapman, M.E., Bersi, T.K., Erf, G.F.
Poultry science 2003 v.82 no.12 pp. 1886-1897
floors, basophils, lipopolysaccharides, Salmonella Typhimurium, blood platelets, broiler chickens, CD4-positive T-lymphocytes, lymphocyte count, endotoxins, heterophils, CD8-positive T-lymphocytes, eosinophils, immune response, mortality, litter (bedding), monocytes, inflammation, battery cages
Commercial broilers are constantly exposed to airborne microorganisms and endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS). It has been shown that microbial contamination of the air was higher in broiler houses using floor litter than in broiler houses using netting-type floors. The current study evaluated the effect of housing conditions on blood leukocyte profiles and tested the hypothesis that, when compared to broilers reared in clean stainless steel cages (Cage group), broilers raised on floor litter (Floor group) should experience a higher environmental challenge and have a desensitized immune system that may exhibit better tolerance/resistance to subsequent intravenous LPS challenge. Hematological parameters were evaluated prior to and following i.v. administration of 1 mg/kg BW Salmonella typhimurium LPS (dissolved at 1 mg/0.25 mL in PBS) or i.v. injection of 0.25 mL/kg BW PBS alone. The results showed that prior to LPS/PBS injection, broilers in the cage group had higher heterophil and monocyte concentrations, a higher B cell percentage within the lymphocyte population, and a higher heterophil to lymphocyte (H:L) ratio in the blood. The i.v. LPS injection resulted in 25% mortality in the cage group and 42% mortality in the floor group within 8 h post-injection. LPS reduced the concentrations of total white blood cells (WBC) and all differential WBC except eosinophils and increased thrombocyte concentrations within 1 h post-injection in both groups. All of these values returned to their respective pre-injection levels within 48 h post-injection in the surviving birds. The two groups exhibited similar overall hematological changes after LPS injection except that the cage group showed a higher H:L ratio at 8 h post-injection and a lower B-cell percentage within the lymphocyte population at 48 h post-injection when compared with the floor group. We concluded that the immune systems of broilers reared on floor litter were desensitized and exhibited less pronounced leukocyte responses to i.v. LPS when compared with those of broilers reared in clean stainless steel cages. However, such desensitization of the immune system did not help broilers survive subsequent i.v. LPS challenge.