A cloned Eimeria acervulina gene (3-1E) was used to vaccinate chickens in ovo against coccidiosis, both alone and in combination with genes encoding interleukin (IL)-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-15, IL-16, IL-17, IL-18, or interferon (IFN)-γ. Vaccination efficacy was assessed by increased serum anti–3-1E antibody titers, reduced fecal oocyst shedding, and enhanced body weight gain following experimental infection with E. acervulina. When used alone, anti–3-1E antibody titers were transiently, but reproducibly, increased at 2 wk and 3 wk posthatching in a dose-dependent manner. Similarly, significantly reduced oocyst shedding and increased weight gain were observed at relatively high-dose 3-1E vaccinations (≥25 μg/egg). Combined immunization with the 3-1E and IL-1, IL-2, IL-15, or IFN-γ genes induced higher serum antibody responses compared with immunization with 3-1E alone. Following parasite infection, chickens hatched from embryos given the 3-1E gene plus the IL-2 or IL-15 genes displayed significantly reduced oocyst shedding compared with those given 3-1E alone, while 3-1E plus IL-15 or IFN-γ significantly increased weight gain compared with administration of 3-1E alone. Taken together, these results indicate that in ovo immunization with a recombinant Eimeria gene in conjunction with cytokine adjuvants stimulates protective intestinal immunity against coccidiosis.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1