Newcastle disease (ND) is one of the most economically important poultry diseases. Despite intensive efforts with current vaccination programs, this disease still occurs worldwide, causing significant mortality even in vaccinated flocks. This has been partially attributed to a gap in immunity during the
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Newcastle disease (ND) is one of the most economically important poultry diseases. Despite intensive efforts with current vaccination programs, this disease still occurs worldwide, causing significant mortality even in vaccinated flocks. This has been partially attributed to a gap in immunity during the post-hatch period due to the presence of maternal antibodies that negatively impact the replication of the commonly used live vaccines. In ovo
vaccines have multiple advantages and present an opportunity to address this problem. Currently employed in ovo
ND vaccines are recombinant herpesvirus of turkeys (HVT)-vectored vaccines expressing Newcastle disease virus (NDV) antigens. Although proven efficient, these vaccines have some limitations, such as delayed immunogenicity and the inability to administer a second HVT vaccine post-hatch. The use of live ND vaccines for in ovo
vaccination is currently not applicable, as these are associated with high embryo mortality. In this study, recombinant NDV-vectored experimental vaccines containing an antisense sequence of avian interleukin 4 (IL4R) and their backbones were administered in ovo
at different doses in 18-day-old commercial eggs possessing high maternal antibodies titers. The hatched birds were challenged with virulent NDV at 2 weeks-of-age. Post-hatch vaccine shedding, post-challenge survival, challenge virus shedding, and humoral immune responses were evaluated at multiple timepoints. Recombinant NDV (rNDV) vaccinated birds had significantly reduced post-hatch mortality compared with the wild-type LaSota vaccine. All rNDV vaccines were able to penetrate maternal immunity and induce a strong early humoral immune response. Further, the rNDV vaccines provided protection from clinical disease and significantly decreased virus shedding after early virulent NDV challenge at two weeks post-hatch. The post-challenge hemagglutination-inhibition antibody titers in the vaccinated groups remained comparable with the pre-challenge titers, suggesting the capacity of the studied vaccines to prevent efficient replication of the challenge virus. Post-hatch survival after vaccination with the rNDV-IL4R vaccines was dose-dependent, with an increase in survival as the dose decreased. This improved survival and the dose-dependency data suggest that novel attenuated in ovo
rNDV-based vaccines that are able to penetrate maternal immunity to elicit a strong immune response as early as 14 days post-hatch, resulting in high or full protection from virulent challenge, show promise as a contributor to the control of Newcastle disease.