We examined the changes in the lymphocyte subpopulations in the spleen and peripheral blood of turkeys and the effects of experimental immunodeficiency in the B and T cell compartments on the pathogenesis of hemorrhagic enteritis (HE) in turkeys. Inoculation of turkeys with hemorrhagic enteritis virus (HEV) induced a drop in the relative proportions of IgM bearing cells on Day 2, 3, and 9 post-infection and an elevation in the relative proportions of CD4+ cells on Day 4 and 6 post-infection. Elevated levels of CD8+ cells were observed in the infected turkeys only on Day 16 after infection. Marked depletion of IgM+ cells may play a role in immunodepression caused by HEV. Cyclophosphamide (CY) treatment induced B cell deficiency in turkeys severely impaired HEV replication in the spleen suggesting that B lymphocytes are important for viral replication. Cyclosporin A (CsA) selectively impaired T cell mitogenesis and protected the turkeys against HEV-induced intestinal hemorrhages. CsA did not prevent viral replication in the spleen or the associated splenomegaly. This result suggested that T cell immunity may be important for intestinal hemorrhaging induced by HEV.
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