Based on the RNA-seq data of chicken spleen tissues infected with J subgroup avian leukosis virus (ALV-J), we found that prolactin (PRL) gene was one of differentially expressed gene. We measured ALV-J viremia and PRL levels in the plasma of two groups of ALV-J-infected adult chickens. Furthermore, recombinant chicken PRL (cPRL) was used to assess how cPRL affects ALV-J virus replication both in vivo and in vitro. The results showed that PRL levels in the plasma of adult chickens infected with ALV-J were lower than those of uninfected chickens, and that the difference was more significant in the avian leukemia pathological apparent changes. Notably, the fluctuations in PRL levels might influence the disappearance of ALV-J viremia in chickens. The in vitro results showed that preincubating DF-1 cells with cPRL before ALV-J infection elicited the best antiviral effects. Moreover, these effects were not dose-dependent. in vivo, injection of cPRL into ALV-J-infected chicks could reduce the levels of viremia at the 14 days post infection (dpi). Additionally, the expression of the interferon-stimulated genes oligoadenylate synthetase-like (OSAL) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) increased, and that of the proinflammatory cytokine-encoding TNTα, IL-1β, and IL-6 genes decreased in the spleens of ALV-J-infected chicks injected with cPRL, leading to inhibition of viral replication at the 7 dpi. Collectively, our data demonstrated that PRL plays an important antiviral role in the immune response to ALV-J infection. This is the first report of the relationship between ALV-J infection and PRL. It is of great significance for the prevention and control of ALV-J.
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