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Early infection with Marek’s disease virus can jeopardize protection conferred by laryngotracheitis vaccines: a method to study MDV-induced immunosuppression

Faiz, Nik M., Cortes, Aneg L., Guy, James S., Fletcher, Oscar J., West, Melissa, Montiel, Enrique, Gimeno, Isabel M.
Avian pathology 2016 v.45 no.6 pp. 606-615
Mardivirus, atrophy, broiler chickens, histopathology, immunosuppression, lymphoma, maternal immunity, vaccination, vaccines, virulence, viruses
Marek’s disease virus (MDV) is a herpesvirus that induces lymphomas and immunosuppression in chickens. MDV-induced immunosuppression (MDV-IS) is divided into two phases: early-MDV-IS occurring mainly in chickens lacking maternal antibodies (MAb) against MDV and associated with lymphoid organ atrophy; and late-MDV-IS occurring once MDV enters latency and during tumour development. Our objectives were to document the impact of late-MDV-IS on commercial poultry (meat-type chickens bearing MAb against MDV and that were vaccinated or unvaccinated against MD) and to optimize a model to study late-MDV-IS under laboratory conditions. The impact of late-MDV-IS was evaluated by assessing the effect of early infection (day of age) with a very virulent plus MDV (vv+MDV) on the efficacy of chicken-embryo-origin (CEO) infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) virus vaccine against ILT challenge. The CEO ILT vaccine was administered in water at 14 days of age and ILT virus (ILTV) challenge was done intratracheally at 30 days of age. Development of ILT was monitored by daily evaluation of clinical signs, development of gross and histological lesions in trachea, and quantification of ILTV transcripts in trachea. Infection with vv+MDV strain 648A resulted in total abrogation of protection conferred by the CEO vaccine against ILTV challenge even in chickens vaccinated at 1 day of age with either HVT, HVT+SB-1, or CVI988. Chickens exposed to vv+MDV prior to vaccination with CEO ILTV vaccine had similar (P < 0.05) clinical scores, gross lesions, histopathologic lesion scores, and load of ILTV transcripts in trachea after ILTV challenge, as chickens that were not vaccinated with CEO ILTV vaccine.