Immunostimulating complexes (ISCOMs) are unique, multimolecular structures formed by encapsulating antigens, lipids, and triterpene saponins of plant origin, and are an effective delivery system for various kinds of antigens. The uses of ISCOMs formulated with saponins from plants collected in Kazakhstan, with antigens from the poultry coccidian parasite Eimeria tenella, were evaluated for their potential use in developing a vaccine for control of avian coccidiosis. Saponins isolated from the plants Aesculus hippocastanum and Glycyrrhiza glabra were partially purified by HPLC. The saponin fractions obtained from HPLC were evaluated for toxicity in chickens and chicken embryos. The HPLC saponin fractions with the least toxicity, compared to a commercial saponin Quil A, were used to assemble ISCOMs. When chicks were immunized with ISCOMs prepared with saponins from Kazakhstan plants and E. tenella antigens, and then challenged with E. tenella oocysts, significant protection was conveyed compared to immunization with antigen alone. The results of this study indicate that ISCOMs formulated with saponins isolated from plants indigenous to Kazakhstan are an effective antigen delivery system which may be successfully used, with low toxicity, for preparation of highly immunogenic coccidia vaccine.

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