Synthetic oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) containing unmethylated cytosine phosphodiester guanine (CpG) motifs (CpG-ODN) are effective immunostimulatory agents against a variety of viral, bacterial, and protozoan diseases in different animals including poultry. We have recently demonstrated that in ovo injection of CpG-ODN confers protection in neonatal chickens against bacterial septicemias. The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of needle-free intrapulmonary (IPL) delivery of CpG-ODN microdroplets against Escherichia coli infection in neonatal chicks. In the present study, we used 880 chicks in total keeping 40 chicks per group. Chicks were delivered CpG-ODN or saline by IPL at the day 1 of hatch. Three days later, chicks were challenged with two doses (1 × 104 CFU, n = 20 or 1 × 105 CFU, n = 20) of E. coli. Chicks treated with CpG-ODN by the IPL route had significantly lower clinical signs and bacterial load compared to the group treated with saline (P < 0.05). CpG-ODN–treated groups were significantly protected against E. coli septicemia. We observed dose- and exposure time-dependent immunoprotective effects of IPL CpG-ODN in chicks. We found that IPL delivery of CpG-ODN can induce protective immunity as early as 6 hr that remains effective at least until day 5 post-treatment. Moreover, there were no adverse effects of IPL delivery of CpG-ODN on growth or mortality up to 42 days of age. Based on these findings, it can be suggested that CpG-ODN delivery by IPL route can be a promising alternative to antibiotics for inducing protective immunity in chicks during the critical first week of neonatal life.
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Vol. 61 • No. 4