Cross-protection and immune responses elicited by infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) vaccination on Day 1 of age or at later time points were examined. Specific-pathogen-free chickens were vaccinated with a Massachusetts-type vaccine and heterologous challenge was performed with an Arkansas (Ark) -type virulent strain. In Trial 1, chickens vaccinated on Day 1 or Day 10 of age were challenged 21 days after vaccination. Analysis of tracheal histopathology and viral load demonstrated less cross protection when vaccination was performed on Day 1 of age. In Trial 2, chickens were vaccinated on Day 1 or Day 14 of age. A somewhat stronger systemic antibody response to IBV was detected in chickens vaccinated at 14 days of age. In addition, avidity of antibodies to Ark-type S1 protein elicited by vaccination at 14 days of age was greater. Differences in immune-cell populations in the Harderian gland (HG) observed at the time of sampling (35 days following vaccination) between chickens vaccinated at 1 day or 14 days of age indicated greater, rather than reduced, immune activity in the chickens vaccinated at 1 day of age. These differences are, perhaps, a result of the higher levels of persisting vaccine virus observed in the younger chickens. Both nonvaccinated/challenged groups showed significantly higher (P < 0.05) proportions of B cells and CD8+ T cells 7 days after challenge than age-matched vaccinated/challenged groups or age-matched nonvaccinated/nonchallenged control groups. These results indicate infiltration and/or expansion of B cells and CD8+ cells in HGs following challenge of nonvaccinated chickens. A fortuitous finding was that the more immature immune system of chickens vaccinated at 1 day of age was less effective at clearing vaccine virus after vaccination. Collectively, the current results indicate that IBV vaccination at 1 day of age can decrease the potential for heterologous cross protection compared with vaccination at least 10 days after hatch. A lower level of antibody affinity maturation likely contributes to decreased cross protection.
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Vol. 63 • No. 2