Vaccination with transgenic Eimeria tenella expressing Eimeria maxima AMA1 and IMP1 confers partial protection against high-level E. maxima challenge in a broiler model of coccidiosis

Iván Pastor-Fernández, Sungwon Kim, Virginia Marugán-Hernández, Francesca Soutter, Fiona M Tomley, Damer P Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Poultry coccidiosis is a parasitic enteric disease with a highly negative impact on chicken production. In-feed chemoprophylaxis remains the primary method of control, but the increasing ineffectiveness of anticoccidial drugs, and potential future restrictions on their use has encouraged the use of commercial live vaccines. Availability of such formulations is constrained by their production, which relies on the use of live chickens. Several experimental approaches have been taken to explore ways to reduce the complexity and cost of current anticoccidial vaccines including the use of live vectors expressing relevant Eimeria proteins. We and others have shown that vaccination with transgenic Eimeria tenella parasites expressing Eimeria maxima Apical Membrane Antigen-1 or Immune Mapped Protein-1 (EmAMA1 and EmIMP1) partially reduces parasite replication after challenge with a low dose of E. maxima oocysts. In the present study, we have reassessed the efficacy of these experimental vaccines using commercial birds reared at high stocking densities and challenged with both low and high doses of E. maxima to evaluate how well they protect chickens against the negative impacts of disease on production parameters.

METHODS: Populations of E. tenella parasites expressing EmAMA1 and EmIMP1 were obtained by nucleofection and propagated in chickens. Cobb500 broilers were immunised with increasing doses of transgenic oocysts and challenged two weeks later with E. maxima to quantify the effect of vaccination on parasite replication, local IFN-γ and IL-10 responses (300 oocysts), as well as impacts on intestinal lesions and body weight gain (10,000 oocysts).

RESULTS: Vaccination of chickens with E. tenella expressing EmAMA1, or admixtures of E. tenella expressing EmAMA1 or EmIMP1, was safe and induced partial protection against challenge as measured by E. maxima replication and severity of pathology. Higher levels of protection were observed when both antigens were delivered and was associated with a partial modification of local immune responses against E. maxima, which we hypothesise resulted in more rapid immune recognition of the challenge parasites.

CONCLUSIONS: This study offers prospects for future development of multivalent anticoccidial vaccines for commercial chickens. Efforts should now be focused on the discovery of additional antigens for incorporation into such vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number343
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusFirst published - 10 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan/immunology
  • Body Weight/drug effects
  • Chickens/immunology
  • Coccidiosis/prevention & control
  • Eimeria/drug effects
  • Eimeria tenella/drug effects
  • Genes, Protozoan/immunology
  • Interferon-gamma/drug effects
  • Interleukin-10/metabolism
  • Poultry Diseases/parasitology
  • Protozoan Vaccines/biosynthesis
  • Transfection
  • Transgenes/immunology
  • Vaccination/methods
  • Vaccines, Attenuated/biosynthesis
  • Immune Mapped Protein-1
  • Vaccination
  • Broiler model of coccidiosis
  • Productive scores
  • Transgenic Eimeria tenella
  • Poultry coccidiosis
  • Apical Membrane Antigen-1


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