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Avian safety guardian: Luteolin restores Mycoplasma gallisepticum-induced immunocompromise to improve production performance via inhibiting the IL-17/NF-kB pathway.

Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) is a major pathogen causing chronic respiratory disease (CRD) in chickens. Exposure to MG poses a constant threat to chicken health and causes substantial economic losses. Antibiotics are the main treatment for MG infections, but have to struggle with antibiotic residues and MG resistance. To date, no safe and more effective prevention or treatment for MG infections has been identified. Luteolin (Lut) is a natural flavonoid compound known for its excellent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, immunoregulatory, and anti-inflammatory pharmacological activities. Herein, we established an MG-infected model using partridge shank chickens and chicken-like macrophages (HD11 cells) to investigate the effect and potential mechanism of Lut against MG-induced immune damage. According to our findings, Lut significantly inhibited the expression of MG adhesion protein (pMGA1.2) in vivo and in vitro. Lut effectively mitigated the MG-induced decrease in body weight gain, feed conversion ratio, survival rate, and serum IgG and IgA levels. Lut directly repaired MG-induced spleen and thymus damage by histopathological analysis. Furthermore, network pharmacology analysis revealed that Lut most probably resisted MG infection through the IL-17/NF-kB pathway. In vivo and in vitro experiments, Lut significantly suppressed the increase in key protein IL-17A, TRAF6, p-p65, and p-IkBα in the IL-17/NF-kB pathway. Meanwhile, Lut markedly alleviated MG-induced the increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, pro-apoptotic genes caspase3 and caspase9, while promoting the expression of anti-apoptotic genes Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL. In summary, Lut effectively suppressed MG colonization, alleviated MG-induced the production performance degradation, inflammatory responses, and immune damage by inhibiting the IL-17/ NF-kB pathway. This study indicates Lut can serve as a safe and effective antibiotic alternative drug for preventing and treating MG-induced CRD. It also provides new evidence to explore the molecular mechanisms of MG infection.

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