The crop immune response against Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) challenge in eight commercial egg-layer strains (five white-egg layer and three brown-egg layer) and specific-pathogen-free (SPF) White Leghorn (WL) hens was investigated. Pre- and post-SE challenge mucosal immune responses within the crops were evaluated. Commercial layers and SPF WL hens were orally challenged with 108 CFU/ml SE PT13a and SE nalR PT13, respectively. Crop lavage samples were collected at weekly intervals from day 0 (pre-challenge) to day 25–27 postinfection (PI), and bacteriological examination was performed to monitor progression of SE infection. Crop lavage samples were analyzed for SE-lipopolysaccharide (LPS)–specific IgA using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). H&E-stained slides of crop sections from day 34 PI and uninfected controls were assessed for lymphoid tissue via light microscopy. Lymphoid areas were graded based on morphology, size, and cellularity using a score 0 to 5 scale. The 0 to 5 (low to high) numerical values represented progressive increases in size and cellular density of lymphoid tissue. Bacterial culture results showed the highest percentage of SE-positive crop lavage samples from all hen groups at day 5–6 PI and day 11–12 PI. A progressive decline in percentage of SE-positive crop lavage samples did occur as time PI lengthened; however, at day 25–27 PI SE persisted in crop lavage samples from SPF WL hens and three commercial white-egg layer strains. A marked increase in SE-LPS-specific IgA was measured in crop lavage samples between day 0 and day 11–12 PI for all hen groups. Crop SE-LPS-specific IgA response remained elevated above day 0 baseline for the duration of the experiment. Well-defined score 3 to 5 lymphoid tissue aggregates were observed in crop tissue sections harvested at day 34 PI. Comparison of crop sections determined a 1.2–4.0 times increase in ratio of lymphoid tissue in day 34 PI SE-challenged hens vs. uninfected control hens.
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Vol. 52 • No. 1