A competitive enzyme immunoassay was developed to measure the changes in serum levels of ovotransferrin (OTF) during inflammation and infectious diseases in chickens. The assay is based on the competition of serum OTF with a fixed concentration of biotin-labeled OTF to bind to a rabbit anti-chicken transferrin antibody immobilized on microtiter wells. After several washing steps, the antibody-bound biotinylated OTF is probed with streptavidin–horseradish peroxidase conjugate (HRP) followed by a colorimetric detection of the HRP activity. The relative changes in the optical density of color are plotted against the competing concentrations of OTF with logarithmic regression to generate a standard curve that is used to determine the concentrations of OTF in unknown samples. Serum had no effect on the measurement of OTF. By this method, the time course changes of serum OTF levels in 4-wk-old male broiler chickens that were subjected to inflammation by croton oil injection were measured. The results showed croton oil–induced inflammation elevated serum OTF levels at 16 hr postinjection. OTF levels reached a peak by 72 hr, remained high through 120 hr, and returned to a basal level of olive oil–injected controls by 240 hr. There were no changes in serum OTF levels at any of the above time points in olive oil–injected control chickens. For studies with poultry diseases, specific-pathogen-free (SPF) male chickens were challenged with known bacterial and viral pathogens, and serum was collected at the height of the infection, i.e., 7 days after the challenge. Compared with uninjected controls, the SPF chickens challenged with Escherichia coli, fowl poxvirus, respiratory enteric orphan virus, infectious bursal disease virus, infectious bronchitis virus, or infectious laryngotracheitis virus had higher levels of OTF in serum. Inflammation-induced changes in serum OTF levels were also evident in the changes in the density of a 65-kD band protein corresponding to OTF. These results demonstrate that serum OTF may be a nonspecific clinical marker of inflammation associated with traumatic or infectious avian diseases.
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Vol. 46 • No. 1