Heat stress, Eimeria spp. and C. perfringens infections alone or in combination modify gut Th1/Th2 cytokine balance and avian necrotic enteritis pathogenesis.


Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of São Paulo, SP, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]


Information on the dynamics of the chicken immune system during bacterial or parasite challenge in the presence or absence of stressful situations may provide a better understanding of the complex mechanisms behind these diseases. Necrotic enteritis (NE) had been controlled previously by the proper use of antimicrobial agents; however, more recently, NE has reemerged in many countries. The imposed restrictions on antimicrobial use and/or the intensive productive programs implemented by producers are challenges the birds, leading to large host adaptive responses that in many instances are like those elicited by stressors. This study analyses the effects of heat stress on Th1/Th2 cytokine balance, pathological features, and Toll-like receptor expression in the small intestine of broiler chickens infected with Clostridium perfringens type A in the presence or absence of Eimeria spp. co-infection. This co-infection model was experimentally used because it reproduces the findings commonly observed in the field during avian NE. For this purpose, broiler chickens infected with C. perfringens and/or Eimeria spp. were reared in isolator chambers subjected or not to heat stress intermittently. It was observed that heat stress directs the expression of Th2-type cytokines, increases Toll-like receptor 4 expression in the intestine and reduces the disease severity induced by Eimeria spp. and C. perfringens infections alone or in combination, most likely as a consequence of stress-induced changes in brain-gut axis activity.


Broiler chickens,Gut-brain axis,Necrotic enteritis,Neuroimmunomodulation,