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Eimeria tenella oocysts attenuated by low energy electron irradiation (LEEI) induce protection against challenge infection in chickens

: Thabet, Ahmed; Schmäschke, Ronald; Fertey, Jasmin; Bangoura, Berit; Schönfelder, Jessy; Lendner, Matthias; Ulbert, Sebastian; Daugschies, Arwid


Veterinary parasitology 266 (2019), S.18-26
ISSN: 0304-4017
ISSN: 1873-2550
Fraunhofer IZI ()
Fraunhofer FEP ()
vaccine; low-energy electron irradiation; eiemeria tenella; in vitro; in-vivo

In vitro and in vivo studies were performed to assess whether Eimeria tenella (E. tenella) oocysts, exposed to low energy electron irradiation (LEEI), might be considered potential vaccine candidates against cecal coccidiosis. Sporulated oocysts were exposed to LEEI of 0.1 kGy to 10.0 kGy. Reproduction inhibition assays (RIA) were performed in MDBK cells to assess infectivity of sporozoites excysted from irradiated and non-irradiated oocysts. LEEI of 0.1 kGy or 0.5 kGy resulted in 73.2% and 86.5% inhibition of in vitro reproduction (%I RIA ), respectively. Groups of 12 one day old (D1) chicken were orally inoculated with Paracox®-8 (G1), 2.0 × 10 3 non-irradiated oocysts (G2) or 1.0 × 10 4 irradiated oocysts exposed to LEEI of 0.1 kGy (G3, G4) or 0.5 kGy (G5). Chicken of groups G1, G2, G4 and G5 were challenged 3 weeks later (D21) by a single inoculation of 7.5 × 10 4 non-attenuated oocysts of the same strain while G3 remained unchallenged. All chickens were subject to necropsy 7 days after challenge (D28) to estimate lesion scores (LS) and oocyst index (OI). A positive control (PC, non-vaccinated, challenged) and a negative control (NC, non-vaccinated, non-challenged) were kept in parallel. Chicken of group G5 had similar weight gain as the Paracox®-8 group (G1) after challenge and higher weight gains as compared to the other vaccinated groups. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) did not differ between chickens inoculated with oocysts irradiated with 0.5 kGy (G5) and negative control (NC) before challenge (1.25–1.52). After challenge FCR was 1.99 (G5) to 2.23 (G4) in the vaccinated chicken compared to 1.76 in group NC. LS and OI were significantly lower in all vaccinated groups as compared to group PC. Progeny oocysts collected from the feces of chickens following vaccination with irradiated oocysts exhibited lower in vitro infectivity/reproduction in MDBK cells with %I RIA of 89.7% and 82.4% for progeny of oocysts irradiated with 0.5 kGy and 0.1 kGy, respectively, suggesting hereditary attenuation by LEEI treatment. Seroconversion was demonstrated by ELISA before challenge (D21) in all vaccinated groups, however, chicken inoculated with irradiated oocysts displayed higher antibody levels than those inoculated with precocious oocysts (G1). In Western blot analysis chicken vaccinated with virulent (G2) or 0.1 kGy-irradiated E. tenella oocysts (G3, G4) showed more protein bands compared to G5 (0.5 kGy). We conclude that LEEI could be a promising technology for production of attenuated oocyst vaccines.