To our knowledge, there is no evidence demonstrating that antimicrobial peptide or protein concentrations and/or their activities might be modified by the exposure of the hen to pathogenic and/or non-pathogenic find more environmental microbes, as demonstrated for yolk antibodies [3, 11]. This question is of interest since EU-directive 1999/74 became effective at the beginning of 2012. Conventional cage housing has been banned and only eggs issuing from
alternative breeding systems are marketable. This major change in the hen breeding system has modified the hen microbial environment [12, 13] and might increase egg shell contamination, as suggested by some comparisons between cage and non-cage breeding systems [14, 15]. Therefore, we explored whether the microbial environment of the hen influences innate immunity by increasing the oviduct secretion of antimicrobial proteins into Semaxanib clinical trial the egg white, and its antibacterial activity. Any modification in egg antimicrobial molecules which are much less selective for specific pathogens compared to IgY and are potentially active against a wide
range of microbes including bacteria, viruses or parasites  might positively impact on the hygienic quality of table eggs. With this objective in mind, we studied three experimental models reflecting large differences in hen microbial environment and immunological status: Germ-free animals (GF), Specific Pathogen Free animals (SPF), and Conventional hens (C). Germ-free (GF) animals are reared in sterile conditions and show a wide range of defects in the development of their immune system and in antibody production, particularly intestine IgA. In GF mice, the
normal immune function is also impaired at the tissue, cellular and molecular levels in the absence of gut microbiota [16, 17]. SPF females are not selleck kinase inhibitor subjected to any vaccination treatment and are bred in strictly controlled environments that are free of pathogens. In contrast, the conventional hens are vaccinated against highly virulent microorganisms HSP90 and are reared in commercial facilities where environmental microbes are diverse and might even include pathogens. In the present study, we have used these extreme breeding conditions to explore the impact of the hen microbial environment on the modulation of innate immunity in the egg, as reflected by egg white antibacterial activity. Results Maintaining germ-free, specific pathogen free and conventional hens GF hens were bred in two isolators and strict conditions were applied to keep them in a sterile environment. The absence of bacteria in the isolators was checked twice a month throughout the experimental period using the referenced method (PFIE-NT-0061) on fresh faeces directly sampled from the cloaca and inoculated into two cultivation media: thioglycolate resazurine broth and heart infusion broth.