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Resolving immune traits against Histomonas meleagridis in poultry, a new Th2 model?

Histomonas meleagridis is a flagellated protozoan parasite and the aetiological agent of histomonosis, a disease that occurs worldwide, mainly in turkeys and chickens. The disease can lead to high mortality but some infections are reported without any clinical symptoms. As a result of the ban on prophylactic and therapeutic drugs in the European Union and the USA due to concerns about possible residues and consumer protection, there is no effective treatment of histomonosis available. Recent investigations at the Clinic for Avian, Reptile and Fish Medicine in Vienna, have shown that chickens and turkeys can be protected against fatal histomonosis by vaccination using in vitro attenuated parasites. Despite this advance, there is a lack of understanding of the host immune reaction following infection with different kinds of histomonads. The present project will thus investigate various hypotheses concerning the immune response of host birds following vaccination and/or challenge with attenuated or virulent parasites. The major questions relate to i) the local immune response of poultry following infection or vaccination, ii) significant changes of T cell populations in birds after inoculation with histomonads and iii) the establishment of an infection model for the type 2 immune pathway in poultry triggered by H. meleagridis.Initially, birds will be experimentally infected to reproduce infection and vaccination, based on a well established model. A variety of immunological and molecular biological methods will be applied to investigate samples from various organs. In combination, the results will provide fundamental new knowledge about the immune mechanisms underlying the protection of poultry against histomonosis. Furthermore, our work will establish an infection model for investigation of the type 2 pathway in poultry, which should be extremely valuable to future studies.
Statistik Austria science classification
403016         Veterinary immunology
403023         Veterinary parasitology
Immunreaktion Geflügel
Project leader
Liebhart Dieter
Type of Research
Basic research
Vetmed Research Units
University Clinic for Poultry and Fish Medicine, Clinical Unit of Poultry Medicine
Funded by
FWF - Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria

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4 Publications

Kidane, FA; Mitra, T; Wernsdorf, P; Hess, M; Liebhart, D (2018): Allocation of Interferon Gamma mRNA Positive Cells in Caecum Hallmarks a Protective Trait Against Histomonosis. Front Immunol. 2018; 9:1164
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Mitra, T; Gerner, W; Kidane, FA; Wernsdorf, P; Hess, M; Saalmüller, A; Liebhart, D (2017): Vaccination against histomonosis limits pronounced changes of B cells and T-cell subsets in turkeys and chickens. Vaccine. 2017; 35(33):4184-4196
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Mitra, T; Bilic, I; Hess, M; Liebhart, D (2016): The 60S ribosomal protein L13 is the most preferable reference gene to investigate gene expression in selected organs from turkeys and chickens, in context of different infection models. Vet Res. 2016; 47(1):105
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Kidane, FA; Bilic, I; Mitra, T; Wernsdorf, P; Hess, M; Liebhart, D (2016): In situ hybridization to detect and localize signature cytokines of T-helper (Th) 1 and Th2 immune responses in chicken tissues. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2016; 175:51-56
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