Recent studies have emphasized the crucial role of gut microbiota in triggering and modulating immune response. We aimed to determine whether the modification of gut microbiota by oral co-administration of two antibiotics, ampicillin and neomycin, would lead to changes in the antibody response to antigens in chickens. Neonatal chickens were given or not given ampicillin and neomycin (0.25 and 0.5 g/L, respectively) in drinking water. At 2 weeks of age, the chicks were muscularly or orally immunized with antigenic keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), and then serum anti-KLH antibody levels were examined by ELISA. In orally immunized chicks, oral antibiotics treatment enhanced antibody responses (IgM, IgA, IgY) by 2-3-fold compared with the antibiotics-free control, while the antibiotics did not enhance antibody responses in the muscularly immunized chicks. Concomitant with their enhancement of antibody responses, the oral antibiotics also lowered the Lactobacillus species in feces. Low doses of antibiotics (10-fold and 100-fold lower than the initial trial), which failed to change the fecal Lactobacillus population, did not modify any antibody responses when chicks were orally immunized with KLH. In conclusion, oral antibiotics treatment enhanced the antibody response to orally exposed antigens in chickens. This enhancement of antibody response was associated with a modification of the fecal Lactobacillus content, suggesting a possible link between gut microbiota and antibody response in chickens.
© 2015 Japanese Society of Animal Science.
KLH; Lactobacillus; antibiotics; antibody response; chicken