Development and evaluation of novel recombinant adenovirus-based vaccine candidates for infectious bronchitis virus and Mycoplasma gallisepticum in chickens

Avian infectious bronchitis caused by the infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), and mycoplasmosis caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) are two major respiratory diseases in chickens that have resulted in severe economic losses in the poultry industry. We constructed a recombinant adenovirus that simultaneously expresses the S1 spike glycoprotein of IBV and the TM-1 protein of MG (pBH-S1-TM-1-EGFP). For comparison, we constructed two recombinant adenoviruses (pBH-S1-EGFP and pBH-TM-1-EGFP) that express either the S1 spike glycoprotein or the TM-1 protein alone. The protective efficacy of these three vaccine constructs against challenge with IBV and/or MG was evaluated in specific pathogen free chickens. Groups of seven-day-old specific pathogen free chicks were immunized twice, two weeks apart, via the oculonasal route with the pBH-S1-TM-1-EGFP, pBH-S1-EGFP, or pBH-TM-1-EGFP vaccine candidates or the commercial attenuated infectious bronchitis vaccine strain H52 and MG vaccine strain F-36 (positive controls), and challenged with virulent IBV or MG two weeks later. Interestingly, by days 7 and 14 after the booster immunization, pBH-S1-TM-1-EGFP-induced antibody titre was significantly higher (P < 0.01) compared to attenuated commercial IBV vaccine; however, there was no significant difference between the pBH-S1-TM-1-EGFP and attenuated commercial MG vaccine groups (P > 0.05). The clinical signs, the gross, and histopathological lesions scores of the adenovirus vaccine constructs were not significantly different from that of the attenuated commercial IBV or MG vaccines (positive controls) (P > 0.05). These results demonstrate the potential of the bivalent pBH-S1-TM-1-EGFP adenovirus construct as a combination vaccine against IB and mycoplasmosis.