Quail, like chickens, are susceptible to H5N1 subtype highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV). Both birds experience high mortality, but quail usually survive a few more days than chicken. To understand why, we monitored quail and chickens after inoculation with 106 fifty-percent egg infectious doses of HPAIV A/whooper swan/Aomori/1/2008 (H5N1). The clinical course initiated as depression at 48 hr post inoculation (h.p.i.) in quail and at 36 h.p.i. in chicken, and all infected birds died. Mean death time of quail (91 hr) was significantly longer than that of chicken (66 hr). The virus titers of most tissue samples collected before death were not significantly different. At 24 h.p.i., interferon gamma (IFN-γ) mRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was up-regulated in the quail but down-regulated in the chicken, although TLR-7 and seven other cytokines showed no significant differences between quail and chicken. The viral load in quail PBMC was significantly lower than that in chickens. These results suggest that the induction of IFN-γ after HPAIV infection in quail is related to lower titer of HPAIV. In conclusion, the different clinical courses observed between quail and chicken infected with H5N1 HPAIV might be caused by different IFN-γ responses against the HPAIV infection.
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