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The contribution of the immune response to enhanced colibacillosis upon preceding viral respiratory infection in broiler chicken in a dual infection model

Weerts, Erik A.W.S., Matthijs, Mieke G.R., Bonhof, Josette, van Haarlem, Daphne A., Dwars, R. Marius, Gröne, Andrea, Verheije, M. Hélène, Jansen, Christine A.
Veterinary immunology and immunopathology 2021 v.238 pp. 110276
Avian metapneumovirus, Avian orthoavulavirus 1, Escherichia coli, Infectious bronchitis virus, air, bacterial antigens, body weight, broiler chickens, euthanasia, gene expression, immune response, immunohistochemistry, immunopathology, interleukin-10, interleukin-17, interleukin-6, lungs, macrophages, models, monocytes, pneumonia, tracheitis
Colibacillosis in chickens caused by avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) is known to be aggravated by preceding infections with infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), Newcastle disease virus (NDV) and avian metapneumovirus (aMPV). The mechanism behind these virus-induced predispositions for secondary bacterial infections is poorly understood. Here we set out to investigate the immunopathogenesis of enhanced respiratory colibacillosis after preceding infections with these three viruses. Broilers were inoculated intratracheally with APEC six days after oculonasal and intratracheal inoculation with IBV, NDV, aMPV or buffered saline. After euthanasia at 1 and 8 days post infection (dpi) with APEC, birds were macroscopically examined and tissue samples were taken from the trachea, lungs and air sacs. In none of the groups differences in body weight were observed during the course of infection. Macroscopic lesion scoring revealed most severe tissue changes after NDV-APEC and IBV-APEC infection. Histologically, persistent tracheitis was detected in all virus-APEC groups, but not after APEC-only infection. In the lungs, mostly APEC-associated transient pneumonia was observed. Severe and persistent airsacculitis was present after NDV-APEC and IBV-APEC infection. Bacterial antigen was detected by immunohistochemistry only at 1 dpi APEC, predominantly in NDV-APEC- and IBV-APEC-infected lungs. Higher numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes persisted over time in NDV-APEC- and IBV-APEC-infected tracheas, as did CD4+ lymphocytes in NBV-APEC- and IBV-APEC-infected air sacs. KUL01+ cells, which include monocytes and macrophages, and TCRγδ+ lymphocytes were observed mostly in lung tissue in all infected groups with transient higher numbers of KUL01+ cells over time and higher numbers of TCRγδ+ lymphocytes mainly at 8 dpi. qPCR analysis revealed mostly trends of transient higher levels of IL-6 and IFNγ mRNA in lung tissue after IBV-APEC and also NDV-APEC infection and persistent higher levels of IL-6 mRNA after aMPV-APEC infection. In spleens, transient higher levels of IL-17 mRNA and more persistent higher levels of IL-6 mRNA were observed after all co-infections. No changes in IL-10 mRNA expression were seen. These results demonstrate a major impact of dual infections with respiratory viruses and APEC, compared to a single infection with APEC, on the chicken respiratory tract and suggest that immunopathogenesis contributes to lesion persistence.