An integrated transcriptomics and metabolomics study of the immune response of newly hatched chicks to the cytosine-phosphate-guanine oligonucleotide stimulation.
ABSTRACT: The immunological immaturity of the innate immune system during the first-week post-hatch enables pathogens to infect chickens, leading to the death of the animals. Current preventive solutions to improve the resistance of chicks to infections include vaccination, breeding, and sanitation. Other prophylactic solutions have been investigated, such as the stimulation of animal health with immunostimulants. Recent studies showed that administration of immune-modulators to one-day-old chicks, or in ovo, significantly reduces mortality in experimental bacterial or viral infection challenge models. Owing to a lack of molecular biomarkers required to evaluate chicken immune responses and assess the efficacy of vaccines or immune-modulators, challenge models are still used. One way to reduce challenge experiments is to define molecular signatures through omics approaches, resulting in new methodologies to rapidly screen candidate molecules or vaccines. This study aims at identifying a dual transcriptomics and metabolomics blood signature after administration of CpG-ODN (cytosine-phosphate-guanine oligodeoxynucleotides), a reference immune-stimulatory molecule. A clinical study was conducted with chicks and transcriptomics and metabolomics analyses were performed on whole-blood and plasma samples, respectively. Differentially expressed genes and metabolites with different abundance were identified in chicks treated with CpG-ODN. The results showed that CpG-ODN activated the innate immune system, within hours after administration, and its effect lasted over time, as metabolomics and transcriptomics profiles still varied 6 D after administration. In conclusion, through an integrated clinical omics approach, we deciphered in part the mode of action of CpG-ODN in post-hatch chicks.