Newcastle disease (ND) is a major threat to the international poultry industry, causing bird mortality, reduction in growth and egg production, and trade restrictions. The primary strategy available to the poultry industry to control virulent Newcastle disease virus (NDV), the causative agent of ND, is vaccination. LaSota and other commonly used live-virus NDV vaccine strains were developed in the 1950s and 1960s and show a great degree of genetic divergence from currently circulating NDV strains. In order to characterize protective immunity induced by LaSota against a heterologous NDV strain, we vaccinated groups of specific-pathogen-free (SPF) chickens with LaSota (virus titers ranging from 102 to 108 egg infective dose 50 [EID50] in 10-fold increments) and challenged the birds 14 days later with ZJ1 strain, an NDV strain that was isolated in the year 2000 from geese in China. We monitored multiple parameters of immunity, including serum antibody titers, antigen-specific lymphocyte proliferation, and splenic cytokine expression and determined that SPF birds vaccinated with an adequate titer of LaSota strain live vaccine are fully protected from morbidity and mortality due to challenge with ZJ1 strain NDV, and we concluded that in the absence of interfering maternal antibody, protection due to vaccination increases with vaccine titer until a threshold titer is reached, beyond which, little or no further benefit can be elucidated.
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Vol. 56 • No. 3