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Animal Science, Biomedical Sciences, Veterinary Pathology

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Published Version

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Poultry Science





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Nutritional modulation of the immune system is an often exploited but poorly characterized process. In chickens and other food production animals, dietary enhancement of the immune response is an attractive alternative to antimicrobial use. A yeast cell wall component, β-1,3/1,6-glucan, augments the response to disease in poultry and other species; however, the mechanism of action is not clear. Ascorbic acid and corticosterone are better characterized immunomodulators. In chickens, the spleen acts both as reservoir and activation site for leukocytes and, therefore, splenic gene expression reflects systemic immune function. To determine effects of genetic line and dietary immunomodulators, chickens of outbred broiler and inbred Leghorn and Fayoumi lines were fed either a basal diet or an experimental diet containing β-glucans, ascorbic acid, or corticosterone from 56 to 77 d of age. Spleens were harvested, mRNA was isolated, and expression of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-18, macrophage inflammatory protein-1β, interferon-γ, and phosphoinositide 3-kinase p110γ transcripts was measured by quantitative reverse transcription PCR. Effects of diet, genetic line, sex, and diet × genetic line interaction on weight gain and gene expression were analyzed. At 1, 2, and 3 wk after starting the diet treatments, birds fed the corticosterone diet had gained less weight compared with birds fed the other diets (P < 0.001). Sex affected expression of IL-18 (P = 0.010), with higher levels in males. There was a significant interaction between genetic line and diet on expression of IL-4, IL-6, and IL-18 (P = 0.021, 0.006, and 0.026, respectively). Broiler line gene expression did not change in response to the experimental diet. Splenic expression of IL-6 was higher in Leghorns fed the basal or ascorbic acid diets, rather than the β-glucan or corticosterone diets, whereas the opposite relationship was observed in the Fayoumi line. Expression of IL-4 and IL-18 responded to diet only within the Fayoumi line. The differential splenic expression of birds from diverse genetic lines in response to nutritional immunomodulation emphasizes the need for further study of this process.


This article is published as Redmond, S. B., R. M. Tell, D. Coble, C. Mueller, D. Palić, C. B. Andreasen, and S. J. Lamont. "Differential splenic cytokine responses to dietary immune modulation by diverse chicken lines." Poultry Science 89, no. 8 (2010): 1635-1641. DOI: 10.3382/ps.2010-00846. Posted with permission.

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Poultry Science Association Inc.



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