Nitric oxide (NO) is an important mediator of innate and acquired immunities. In the studies reported here, we quantified NO produced in vitro by chicken leukocytes and macrophages and in vivo during the course of experimental infection with Eimeria, the causative agent of avian coccidiosis, and identified macrophages as the primary source of inducible NO. Eimeria tenella–infected chickens produced higher levels of NO compared with noninfected controls. In Eimeria-infected animals, SC chickens produced greater amounts of NO compared with infected TK chickens, particularly in the intestinal cecum, the region of the intestine infected by E. tenella. Macrophages that were isolated from normal spleen were a major source of NO induced by interferon (IFN)-γ, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and E. tenella sporozoites. Macrophage cell line MQ-NCSU produced high levels of NO in response to Escherichia coli or Salmonella typhi LPS, whereas the HD-11 macrophage cell line was more responsive to IFN-γ. These findings are discussed in the context of the genetic differences in SC and TK chickens that may contribute to their divergent disease phenotypes.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2