Maternally Derived Antibodies: An Overview of Their Role in Infectious Bursal Disease of Chickens

Orakpoghenor O, Markus TP, Abdu PA, Woziri OA and Andamin AD

Published on: 2023-01-28


The high susceptibility of neonates to diseases in early life due to their undeveloped immune system has necessitated the need for protection provided by the dam in the form of maternally derived antibodies (MDA). Maternally derived antibodies are produced by natural infection or active immunization of the dams and they consist mainly of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in mammals and IgY in birds. In avian species, MDA are transferred from the dam to the chicks via the egg yolk thus forming the basis for protection against avian diseases. Attempts made to curb the economic losses resulting from infectious bursal disease (IBD) in poultry involved immunization of breeders using IBDV vaccine to generate MDA transferred to the chicks. The extent to which the chicks are protected from IBD depends on their MDA titres determined by the immunization program of the breeders. Infectious bursal disease MDA titre above 396 (as determined by ELISA) is generally considered protective for the disease. The IBD MDA decays in a linear pattern and rate of decay is dependent on the type of bird. Despite the benefit of MDA against IBD in chicks, complete protection is not guaranteed evident by IBD outbreaks in chicks with adequate MDA levels. Maternally derived antibodies against IBD could pose risk to the chicks by possible neutralization during early infection or vaccination. Hence, this review focused on the dynamics, transfer and significance of MDA, their relationships in IBD as it related to interference with vaccination and the breakthrough MDA titres for IBD virus strains and vaccines.