With the aim of assessing the antigenic characteristics of a circulating pool of fowlpox virus (FPV) that exists in the backyard poultry system in India, one of the field isolates generated was characterized by in vitro immunologic techniques. FPV was isolated from clinically positive fowlpox cases (n  =  10) from the Jhargram (West Midnapur district) and Kakdwip (South 24 Pargana district) areas of West Bengal State, India. Initially, FPV-specific PCR was performed for confirmation of the samples. Isolation of FPV was done using embryonated chicken eggs and the choreoallantoic membrane route. Subsequently, FPV antigen was prepared from chicken embryo fibroblast cell culture–adapted field isolate. Biologic transmission of FPV was performed in Rhode Island red chickens experimentally to assess humoral and cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses. High level of anti-FPV antibodies were observed in test birds as assessed by indirect ELISA. Seroreactive polypeptides (B-cell antigens) of FPV antigen with molecular weights of 44.5, 66.5, 75, 90.5, and 99 kDa were detected by western blot analysis. Significant increases in CMI responses were observed in inoculated chickens as assessed by lymphocyte proliferation assay, cytotoxicity assay, and T-cell immunoblotting. The predominant T-cell antigen of FPV detected had a molecular weight of 66.5 kDa. The present study revealed the antigenic characteristics of FPV that exists in backyard poultry system in West Bengal for the first time, thus exploring the rationality of designing future T- and B-cell vaccines against fowlpox.

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