Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Veterinary Anatomy, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

2 Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria


The developmental morphology of the bursa of Fabricius (BF) of broiler chicken was evaluated in this study using gross anatomical, histological, reticulin histo-chemical, and transmission electron microscopic techniques. The result showed that the short plica of the BF at embryonic day (ED) 14 was a mesenchymal tissue that contained cells, including mesenchymal cells and lymphoblasts. The organo-somatic index (OSI) of the BF peaked at ED 17, while the BF of ED 19 showed well delineated follicle-associated and inter-follicular epithelial (IFE) cells. Whereas, the IFE contained apical vacuoles which increased in size with age, the BF contained lymphoid follicles which were first observed at ED 17, and increased steadily in mean diameter from ED 19 to post-hatch day (PD) 28. The framework of the inter-follicular areas and the follicular capsules were composed of collagen type III fibres. Moreover, the cortico-medullary basement membranes were well established with peripheral and cortico-medullary basement capillaries becoming very consistent between PDs 5 and 7. The lymphoid follicle contained lymphocytes with mitotic figures, and plasma cells which showed extensive network of rough endoplasmic reticulum at PD 21, while macrophages contained increasing evidence of phagocytosis from PDs 35 to 56. In conclusion, the morphological features of the BF of broiler chicken in this study reveals that the key function of B-cell maturation within the BF may occur between the first 3 to 4 weeks after hatching, and thereafter, may primarily produce immunoglobulins until involution occurs.


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