We previously demonstrated that a prime-boost regime with an infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) Massachusetts (Mass)-type vaccine and recombinant LaSota virus (rLS) coexpressing IBV Arkansas (Ark)-type trimeric spike ectodomain (Se) and granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GMCSF) enhances heterologous protection against virulent Ark challenge. This study evaluates protection against Ark-type challenge conferred by administering the rLS/ArkSe.GMCSF and the attenuated Mass viruses mixed in the same vial as a combined vaccine. Chickens were vaccinated at day of hatch and challenged at 21 days of age with virulent Ark. Protection conferred by vaccination was assessed by respiratory signs, tracheal virus isolation as well as IBV RNA quantitation, and tracheal histomorphometry. Protection conferred by the combined vaccine was compared to protection induced by a commercial attenuated ArkDPI (Delmarva Poultry Industry) vaccine as well as by the attenuated Mass vaccine alone. Vaccination with the combined vaccine (rLS/ArkSe.GMCSF + Mass) as well as Mass alone provided significantly less protection against Ark challenge compared to the control using attenuated live ArkDPI vaccine. Only ArkDPI-vaccinated chickens exhibited “sterilizing immunity,” i.e., no virus isolated from ≥10% of chickens after challenge. Chickens vaccinated with the combined vaccine rLS/ArkSe.GMCSF + Mass showed significantly less tracheal damage than birds vaccinated with the attenuated Mass vaccine alone. In addition, the combined vaccine also resulted in less virus isolation from the trachea. We concluded that the combined vaccine containing the recombinant virus and the attenuated Mass enhanced the cross-protective ability of the attenuated Mass vaccine against heterologous challenge.

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