Transgenerational effects of innate immune activation in broiler breeders on growth performance and immune responsiveness

Verwoolde, Michel B.; Baal, Jürgen van; Jansen, Christine A.; Graat, Elisabeth A.M.; Lamot, David M.; Lammers, Aart; Eck, Lieske van


The impact of transgenerational effects on growth performance and immunity has not yet been studied extensively within the poultry husbandry sector. An important factor is the impact of the hens on the physical well-being and fitness to the environment of the offspring. This study is the first to investigate the effect of stimulating the maternal innate immune system with lipopolysaccharides (LPS) or β-glucan on growth performance and immune responses in the next generation. Transgenerational effects and consequences of these maternal treatments were further examined using a necrotic enteritis (NE) challenge model in the offspring. We show that offspring of LPS-treated broiler breeders have a higher feed efficiency from 14 to 21 days of age, that is, the period just after the NE challenge. Moreover, more broiler chickens with intestinal lesions after the NE challenge were found in the offspring of the LPS-treated broiler breeders. Both the LPS and β-glucan maternal treatments resulted in transgenerational effects on blood-derived monocytes by showing a tendency of decreased IL1β mRNA levels after ex vivo LPS stimulation. These data are a first indication that broiler breeder hens can affect immune responsiveness and feeding efficiency of their offspring in a transgenerational manner.