Infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) targets B cells in the bursa of Fabricius (BF), causing immunosuppression in chickens and mortality. Susceptibility differs between inbred chickens, with 0 % mortality in ‘resistant’ lines and up to 80 % mortality in ‘susceptible’ lines. However, the mechanism of disease resistance is not understood. In order to address this, chickens (n=18) from three ‘resistant’ lines (15, C and O) and one ‘susceptible’ line (W) were infected with the very virulent IBDV strain, UK661. Clinical scores were recorded and tissues harvested at necropsy on day one, two and three post-infection for RNA extraction and virus titration, compared to non-infected controls. Interestingly, within a given line, we observed a range of symptoms, with some individuals experiencing more severe disease than others, despite no difference in viral replication. Line 15 was the least susceptible to disease based on the average clinical scores (3.2 (15), 5.7 (C), 4.8 (O) and 4.7 (W)) and the percentage of birds with a clinical score of 2 or above (17 % (15), 100 % (C), 83 % (O) and 83 % (W)). The average peak virus replication was also significantly lower in line 15 birds (6.3 log10 fold change) compared to lines C or O (7.0 and 6.8 log10 fold change) (P<0.01). RNA-sequence analysis will be performed using BF samples to understand the biological pathways that confer IBDV resistance. Moreover, primary bursal cells harvested from resistant and susceptible lines were infected with IBDV ex vivo and ongoing work aims to quantify differentially expressed genes in these cells.

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