Egg yolk antibodies, state of the art and future prospects

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Rüdiger Schade, Andreas Hlinak
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Immunisation of chicken and extraction of antibodies from egg yolk belong to the alternative methods since the animals suffering is reduced by non-invasive antibody-sampling. Also, the number of animals needed to produce a certain amount of antibodies can be reduced since chicken produce a significant higher antibody quantity than rabbits. Despite its several advantages this technology (IgY-technology) is rather scarcely used. Traditional behaviour as well as limited or no information at all may hamper a broader acceptance at present. However, significant arguments exist in chicken housing, the choice of appropriate IgY-extraction methods and a lack of information regarding the use of IgY-antibodies. This paper intends to give a short introduction in the IgY-technology, to briefly discuss the state of the art and to inform on recent developments and discussions in this field. The suitability of IgY for special fields of application (as a result of the structural differences between IgY and IgG) is emphasised (e.g. assays combining IgG and IgY, immunisation of chicken against highly conserved antigens). In addition, it is stressed that the IgY-technology as an alternative method can particularly integrate requirements of animal protection (reduce, replace, refine), science (characteristics of avian immune system and resulting properties of IgY) and economy (amount of IgY produced from one chicken).

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Schade, R. and Hlinak, A. (1996) “Egg yolk antibodies, state of the art and future prospects”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 13(Supp. 1), pp. 5–9. Available at: (Accessed: 19 July 2024).

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