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Selection for pro-inflammatory mediators produces chickens more resistant to Campylobacter jejuni

C.L. Swaggerty, I.Y. Pevzner, H. He, K.J. Genovese, M.H. Kogut
Poultry science 2017 v.96 no.6 pp. 1623-1627
Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium perfringens, Eimeria tenella, Salmonella Enteritidis, bacterial colonization, breeding programs, cecum, chickens, interleukin-6, livestock breeding, necropsy, necrotic enteritis, pathogens, phenotype
Campylobacter spp. are the second leading cause of bacterial-induced foodborne illnesses with an estimated economic burden of nearly $2B USD per year. Most human illness associated with campylobacteriosis is due to infection by C. jejuni and chickens are recognized as a reservoir that could lead to foodborne illness in humans resulting from handling or consuming raw or undercooked chicken. We recently developed a novel breeding strategy based on identification and selection of chickens with an inherently high and low phenotype of pro-inflammatory mediators including IL-6, CXCLi2, and CCLi2, hereafter referred to as the high and low lines, respectively. We have shown the high line chickens are more resistant to the foodborne and poultry pathogens Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis, Eimeria tenella, and Clostridium perfringens-induced necrotic enteritis compared to the low line. The objective of this study was to determine whether the same trend of enhanced resistance in the high line birds was observed for C. jejuni. Birds were challenged at 2 d of age by oral gavage (0.5 mL) with 5 × 10⁶ colony forming units (cfu) of C. jejuni/mL, necropsied 4 d post challenge, and cecal content collected to determine if there was a difference in C. jejuni resistance between the high and low line chickens. There were fewer (P = 0.01) chickens from the high line (28/40 = 71.8%) that were colonized by C. jejuni compared to the low line (37/39 = 94.9%). The amount of C. jejuni recovered from the ceca of infected birds was quantified; however, no differences were observed (P = 0.10). Since the high line birds were also more resistant to C. jejuni, it provides additional validation of selection based on pro-inflammatory mediators producing a line of chickens with increased natural resistance against diverse foodborne and poultry pathogens. The poultry industry is moving towards reduced therapeutics and, as such, our breeding strategy would be a viable method to incorporate into traditional poultry breeding programs.