Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Eimeria spp. are a group of highly successful intracellular protozoan parasites that develop within enterocytes. Eimeria maxima from the chicken is characterized by high immunogenicity (a small priming infection gives complete immunity to subsequent homologous challenge) and naturally occurring antigenically variant populations that do not completely cross-protect. In this study we examined the expression of antigenic diversity in E. maxima, as manifested by cross-strain protection in a series of inbred chicken lines. The IAH line of Light Sussex chickens and all lines of inbred White Leghorns were susceptible to primary infections with either of two strains (H and W) of E. maxima and were protected completely against challenge with the homologous strain of parasite. The extent of cross-protection against the heterologous parasite strain varied from 0 to almost 100% depending on host genetics. Interestingly, in one inbred line of chickens (line 15I) the cross-protective phenotype was directional and intensely influenced by the infection history of the host. The basis for the observed variation in cross-protection is not known, but our results suggest that the major histocompatibility complex is not a major genetic component of the phenotype. These results are discussed in relation to the number of protective antigens presented by complex pathogens and the development of immunoprotective responses in hosts of different genetic backgrounds.

Original publication




Journal article


Infect Immun

Publication Date





2472 - 2479


Animals, Chickens, Coccidiosis, Eimeria, Haplotypes, Immunization Schedule, Major Histocompatibility Complex, Protozoan Vaccines, Species Specificity