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Table 3 Identification of immune cell populations in chicken blood and putative functions in anti-viral immunity

From: Assessment of trade-offs between feed efficiency, growth-related traits, and immune activity in experimental lines of layer chickens

Immune system

Blood immune cell populationsa

Cell surface markers (labeled with monoclonal antibodies)b



Myeloid cells


Immediate non-specific response


CD45dim population, no specific marker

Inflammation, phagocytosis, anti-microbial activity


CD45bright population KUL01+

Inflammation, phagocytosis, anti-microbial activity; antigen presentation



CD45bright populations

Delayed response, virus-specific memory triggered after vaccination

  T cellsd

Including all CD4+, CD8α+, TCRγδ+



CD8α+ or CD8α

Interface between innate and adaptive immunity



Delayed response, virus-specific memory triggered after vaccination



Help for anti-viral specific antibody and cytotoxic responses



Anti-viral specific cytotoxic responses and IFN-γ production

  B cells


Specific antibody (neutralizing) production

  1. aFACS analysis was performed according to Seliger et al. [40]. NK cells and myeloid dendritic cells were not tested because they are not well characterized in chicken blood and are assumed to be rare (less than 1% of leucocytes)
  2. bReferences for monoclonal antibodies are in Seliger et al. [40]
  3. cFunctions of immune cell populations are indicative. More details are available in the book Avian Immunology [96]
  4. dExpressions of the T cell receptor (TCR) αβ and γδ are mutually exclusive. TCRαβ is involved in antigen peptide recognition after presentation via MHC I/II molecules. TCRγδ is involved in recognition of a variety of antigens (including peptides, lipids, glycol-lipids, and phospho-antigens). The FACS strategy to separate helper and cytotoxic T cells in chicken blood was based on the expression or the absence of expression of TCRγδ [40]. The CD4+ helper T cell subset expresses only TCRαβ (not tested). CD8α+ T cells express TCRγδ or TCRαβ (not tested), the latter of which includes anti-viral cytotoxic T cells. TCRγδ+ T cells include CD8α+ and CD8α T cell subsets that may display cytotoxic activity against tumor cells and/or IFN-γ production