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Relationship between Protein Nutritional Status and Immunocompetence in Northern Bobwhite Chicks

Robert L. Lochmiller, Michelle R. Vestey and Jon C. Boren
The Auk
Vol. 110, No. 3 (Jul., 1993), pp. 503-510
DOI: 10.2307/4088414
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4088414
Page Count: 8
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Relationship between Protein Nutritional Status and Immunocompetence in Northern Bobwhite Chicks
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Abstract

We investigated the effects of dietary protein quality on the development and functioning of the immune system in four-week-old Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) chicks. Chicks were fed isocaloric diets containing 8, 15, or 33% protein over a three-week period. Significant reductions in the rate of body growth were evident in chicks receiving 8 and 15% protein. Development of the bursa of Fabricius and spleen was significantly depressed in the 8% protein group compared to the other two treatments. Lymphocyte yields from dissociated lymphoid organs of chicks fed 8% protein were substantially reduced compared to birds fed higher levels of protein. In vitro lymphoproliferative responses of cultured splenocytes to mitogenic stimulation (concanavalin A, pokeweed mitogen, and Salmonella typhimurium), white-blood-cell counts, and in vivo measures of humoral immunity did not differ among dietary treatments. Cell-mediated immune function, as measured by an in vivo hypersensitivity response to an intradermal injection of a T lymphocyte-dependent mitogen (phytohemagglutinin), was significantly suppressed in the 8% protein group compared to the other two treatments. Several measures of immune-system development and function were significantly correlated with body mass change during the trial. Results indicated that four-week-old Northern Bobwhite chicks fen an 8% protein diet for three weeks may have difficulty expressing a competent immune response to pathogenic challenge in the wild.

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