Genetics and vaccine efficacy: host genetic variation affecting Marek's disease vaccine efficacy in White Leghorn chickens.
Marek's disease (MD) is a T-cell lymphoma disease of domestic chickens induced by MD virus (MDV), a naturally oncogenic and highly contagious cell-associated α-herpesvirus. Earlier reports have shown that the MHC haplotype as well as non-MHC genes are responsible for genetic resistance to MD. The MHC was also shown to affect efficiency of vaccine response. Using specific-pathogen-free chickens from a series of 19 recombinant congenic strains and their 2 progenitor lines (lines 63 and 72), vaccine challenge experiments were conducted to examine the effect of host genetic variation on vaccine efficacy. The 21 inbred lines of White Leghorns share the same B*2 MHC haplotype and the genome of each recombinant congenic strain differs by a random 1/8 sample of the susceptible donor line (72) genome. Chickens from each of the lines were divided into 2 groups. One was vaccinated with turkey herpesvirus strain FC126 at the day of hatch and the other was treated as a nonvaccinated control. Chickens of both groups were inoculated with a very virulent plus strain of MDV on the fifth day posthatch. Analyses of the MD data showed that the genetic line significantly influenced MD incidence and days of survival post-MDV infection after vaccination of chickens (P<0.01). The protective indices against MD varied greatly among the lines with a range of 0 up to 84%. This is the first evidence that non-MHC host genetic variation significantly affects MD vaccine efficacy in chickens in a designed prospective study.