University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture


Infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) is a pathogen that primarily infects B lymphocytes in domestic avian species. This viral infection has been associated with immunosuppression, clinical disease/mortality, and enteric malabsorption effects. The purpose of this experiment was to compare the effects of a classic (USDA-STC) and a new variant IBDV (RB-4, known to induce primarily the enteric disease) on immune cell populations in lymphoid organs. Seventeen-dayold specific-pathogen-free (SPF) White Leghorn chickens were either not infected (control) or inoculated with either USDA-STC or RB-4 IBD viral isolate. On days 3 and 5 post-inoculation (PI), lymphoid tissues were collected to prepare cell suspensions for immunofluorescent staining and cell population analysis by flow cytometry. Portions of the tissues were snap frozen for immunohistochemistry to localize various immune cells and IBD virus in the tissues. Tissue homogenates were prepared to test for IBDV by quantitative MTT assay. Both the USDA-STC and RB-4 viruses greatly altered lymphocyte populations in the spleen and bursa. At 5 d PI, bursal B cells were approximately 25% and 60% of lymphocytes in chicks infected with USDA-STC and RB-4, respectively, whereas in control birds, B cells constituted 99% of bursal lymphocytes. This reduction in the proportions of bursal B cells was associated with an infiltration of T cells. In the spleen, IBDV infection also reduced the percentage of B cells and increased the percentage of T cells. The differential effects of classic and variant IBDV infection on immune cell populations in lymphoid organs may explain the differences in clinical effects induced by these viruses