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Correlated effects of selection for immunity in White Leghorn chicken lines on natural antibodies and specific antibody responses to KLH and M. butyricum

Giulietta Minozzi1*, Henk K Parmentier3, Sandrine Mignon-Grasteau4, Mike GB Nieuwland3, Bertrand Bed'hom1, David Gourichon2, Francis Minvielle1 and Marie-Helen Pinard-van der Laan1

Author Affiliations

1 INRA/AgroParisTech, UMR1236 Génétique et Diversité Animales, F-78352 Jouy en Josas, France

2 UE de Génétique Avicole, INRA, 37380 Nouzilly, France

3 Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen, Institute of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands

4 Station de Recherches Avicoles, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique-Centre de Tours, 37380 Nouzilly, France

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BMC Genetics 2008, 9:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-5

Published: 14 January 2008



The effect of selection for three general immune response traits on primary antibody responses (Ab) to Mycobacterium butyricum or keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) was studied in four experimental lines of White Leghorn chicken. Birds underwent 12 generations of selection for one of three different general immune criteria; high antibody response to Newcastle disease virus 3 weeks after vaccination (ND3), high cell-mediated immune response, using the wing web response to phytohemglutinin (PHA) and high phagocytic activity, measured as carbone clearance (CC). Line ND3-L was selected on ND3, line PHA-L was selected on PHA, and line CC-L on CC, but all lines were measured for all three traits. The fourth line was a contemporary random bred control maintained throughout the selection experiment. Principal component analysis was used to distinguish clusters based on the overall set of immune measures.


In the KLH immunised group, no differences were present between lines for natural antibodies binding to KLH and LPS, and, lines ND3-L and PHA-L had higher titers to LTA and anti-Gal titers measured before the immunisation protocol. The measure of ND3 was correlated positively with LPS titers measured post KLH immunisation and with the difference between LPS titers measured at day 0 and 7 post immunisation. In the M. butyricum immunised group, Line ND3-L showed significantly higher specific antibody response to M. butyricum, and this result agrees well with the hypothesis that the Th-1 pathway was expected to be selected for in this line.


This study has shown that the two different antigens KLH and M. butyricum gave rise to different responses in the set of selected lines, and that the response was only enhanced for the antigen associated with the same response mechanism as that for the trait (ND3, PHA or CC) for which the line was selected. Interactions between innate and acquired immunity have been observed mainly for the high antibody selected trait, indicating there was a specific interaction due to the selection criterion. Furthermore, the results confirmed the independence between the three selected traits. Finally, principal component analysis contributed to visually discriminate high and low responders to the two new antigens in the four lines.