Because of the trend of cage-free egg production, infections with the nematode Ascaridia galli are receiving increased attention. The aim of this study was to establish a timeline for the influence of A. galli on the expression of key cytokines related to a parasitic immune response, and on the composition of the jejunal microbiota. Twenty-eight male layer-type birds were challenged at 24, 25, and 26 days of age. An additional 28 birds were kept as uninfected controls. Starting on Day 31, three birds of each group were euthanized every week until 8 wk postinfection (PI). The number of larvae isolated from the intestinal wall decreased over time, until no larvae were seen at 7 and 8 wk PI. At 5 wk PI, there was a numerical upregulation of all cytokines (TGF-β, IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-8, IL-10, IL-13) in the infected group, but this change was only statistically significant for IL-13. At this time point, larvae were expected to have developed into adults that would have shed eggs in the feces. However, no adult worms were seen and there was no egg shedding. For the microbiota analysis, there were significant differences in the alpha diversity (Faith's phylogenetic diversity) between challenge and control groups, and the beta diversity analysis showed slight differences between samples, suggesting that the age of the birds was the main reason for the separation of groups. These findings suggest that the upregulation of all cytokines evaluated in Week 5 might be the reason for resolution of the infection. Possible explanations are that a high infection dose and the fact that birds were fed with a more nutritionally dense feed might have contributed to the birds' immune system clearing the infection before the worms were able to reach maturity.

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