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Avian Immunology: studying host-pathogen interactions in chickens

Wednesday 28 May 2014


Christine Jansen, PI

Research performed in the Avian Immunology group focuses on understanding the interaction between pathogens and the chicken immune system. The goal of these projects is to investigate how pathogens modulate the immune system of the bird and how immune responses can be modulated to enhance the immune mediated resistance. Several approaches to improve the immune mediated resistance are being investigated; (1) by enhancement of innate immune responses to overcome the time before [vaccine] specific responses are induced; (2) by modulation of vaccine induced responses through application of novel adjuvants using novel immunization routes and targeting innate immune cells and (3) by modulation of the gut immunity through improved feed strategies

The group seeks to combine research on fundamental avian immunology and host pathogen interactions with applied research by working on pathogens that are of great importance to the poultry industry and that are a threat to human health.

In the past years the avian immunology group has completed the development of assays to measure innate immune responses (natural killer cells, dendritic cells) and adaptive immune responses (antigen-specific T cells and antigen-secreting B cells). With these assays we for the first time explored the function of chicken immune cells at mucosal sites during viral infections such as Avian Influenza Virus, Infectious Bronchitis Virus and Marek’s Disease Virus.

Current group members:
• Christine Jansen (group leader)
• Robin van den Biggelaar (PhD student)
• Nathalie Meijerink (PhD student)
• Daphne van Haarlem (technician)

Key publications:
Jansen CA, de Geus ED, van Haarlem DA, van de Haar PM, Löndt BZ, Graham SP, Göbel TW, van Eden W, Brookes SM, Vervelde L. Differential lung NK cell responses in avian influenza virus infected chickens correlate with pathogenicity. Sci Rep. 2013;3:2478.

de Geus ED, Tefsen B, van Haarlem DA, van Eden W, van Die I, Vervelde L. Glycans from avian influenza virus are recognized by chicken dendritic cells and are targets for the humoral immune response in chicken. Mol Immunol. 2013 Dec 31;56(4):452-62.

Vervelde L, Reemers SS, van Haarlem DA, Post J, Claassen E, Rebel JM, Jansen CA. Chicken dendritic cells are susceptible to highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses which induce strong cytokine responses. Dev Comp Immunol. 2013 Mar;39(3):198-206.

de Geus ED, Jansen CA, Vervelde L. Uptake of particulate antigens in a nonmammalian lung: phenotypic and functional characterization of avian respiratory phagocytes using bacterial or viral antigens. J Immunol. 2012 May 1;188(9):4516-26.

Reemers SS, van Haarlem DA, Sijts AJ, Vervelde L, Jansen CA. Identification of novel avian influenza virus derived CD8+ T-cell epitopes. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31953.

Jansen CA, van de Haar PM, van Haarlem D, van Kooten P, de Wit S, van Eden W, Viertlböck BC, Göbel TW, Vervelde L. Identification of new populations of chicken natural killer (NK) cells.
Dev Comp Immunol. 2010 Jul;34(7):759-67.

Internships:
• Role of natural killer cells during herpes virus infection in a non-mammalian host
• Characterization of natural killer cell subsets in chickens