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Primary cell and organ cultures as models for the investigation of pathogen-host interactions at epithelial layers

Project Summary:

At the Clinic for Poultry our research addresses a variety of zoonotic pathogens including avian Influenza viruses and Campylobacter spp.. But also avian specific pathogens such as the Avian Metapneumovirus, Bordetella avium and Mycoplasma gallisepticum are investigated. These pathogens all target epithelial cells of the respiratory, intestinal or reproductive tract. One aim of our studies is to understand more about the host-pathogen interactions at the epithelial structures, and to determine species-related differences in the pathogenesis of pathogens. More insights into these complex interactions may help in the future to develop better control strategies for the field. To investigate the complex pathogen-host interactions in vivo, especially in the face of co-infecting pathogens, very complex animal experiments would be required. In order to reduce the need for animal experiments we established primary cell and organ culture systems of these different epithelial structures to investigate the pathogen-host interactions under controlled conditions. These include culture systems of the trachea, gut and oviduct. These cultures can be prepared from different bird species, which would allow the ex vivo comparison of the viral or bacterial pathogenesis also between species at the same time. These cell and organ cultures are vital between three days and more than 3 weeks, and may allow even the evaluation of ciliary activity after pathogen inoculation. These microscopical evaluations are supported by classical methods of virus and bacterial isolation, and detection of specifically innate immune reactions by bioassays or expression analysis.


Project Lead:

Prof. Dr. Silke Rautenschlein (; 0511-953-8779)

Dr. Arne Jung (; 0511-953-8774)

Clinic for Poultry, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover

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