Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 1703–1709 | Cite as

Atrophy of the lymphoid organs and suppression of antibody response caused by velogenic Newcastle disease virus infection in chickens

  • Wilfred Sunday Ezema
  • Didacus Chukwuemeka EzeEmail author
  • Shodeinde Vincent Olu Shoyinka
  • John Osita Arinze Okoye
Regular Articles


This project was undertaken to study the immunosuppressive capabilities of velogenic viscerotropic pathotype of Newcastle disease virus (VVNDV) infection in cockerels. Two hundred six-week-old cockerels were divided into four groups. Groups B/VUC and C/VC were vaccinated with LaSota in drinking water at 6 weeks of age. Groups C/VC and D/UC were challenged with VVNDV at 8 weeks of age. Three days post challenge (PC), the cockerels in group D/UC came down with clinical signs which included depression and greenish diarrhoea. Total mortality was 74.6 %. The C/VC cockerels showed no clinical signs. But both challenged groups showed significant weight loss, significant loss of total serum proteins, globulin and albumen (P < 0.05). These losses were more severe in the D/UC than in the C/VC. There was severe atrophy of the bursa, spleen and thymus in both groups. Histopathology showed severe necrosis and depletion of the lymphocytes in the three lymphoid organs. However, the lesions were more severe in the D/UC than in C/VC cockerels. On day 28, PC groups B/VUC, C/VIC and D/UIC were revaccinated with LaSota. The haemagglutination inhibition antibody response on days 35, 42 and 49 PC was very low in groups C/VIC and D/UIC when compared with B/VUC cockerels. These observations show that VVNDV infection both clinical and subclinical can cause immunosuppression and vaccine failure due to severe destruction of the lymphocytes in the lymphoid organs. This will be a serious problem for poultry production in those countries where the disease is enzootic.


Newcastle disease virus Immunosuppression Chickens Antibody response 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

All animal studies were approved by the University of Nigeria Medical and Scientific Research Ethics Committee and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wilfred Sunday Ezema
    • 1
  • Didacus Chukwuemeka Eze
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shodeinde Vincent Olu Shoyinka
    • 1
  • John Osita Arinze Okoye
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Pathology and MicrobiologyUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

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