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Chicken Egg Yolk Antibodies (IgY-technology): A Review of Progress in Production and Use in Research and Human and Veterinary Medicine


Rüdiger Schade, Esteban Gutierrez Calzado, Rodolfo Sarmiento, Pablo Anibal Chacana, Joanna Porankiewicz-Asplund and Horacio Raul Terzolo

The production of antibodies (Abs) in chickens and the extraction of specific Abs from egg yolk (IgY Abs) are increasingly attracting the interest of the scientific community, as demonstrated by the significant growth of the IgY literature. This review offers detailed and comprehensive information about IgY-technology, including: a) possibilities for hen keeping in accordance with the Three Rs principles; b) new insights into the IgY transfer mechanism from blood to yolk as a biological basis for the technology; c) the comparative characteristics of IgY Abs and IgG Abs; d) the high efficacy of the technique, in view of the extraordinary amount of IgY Ab produced by one hen in one year (between 20g and 40g IgY in total); e) comparisons between the efficacies of IgY Abs and IgG Abs (rabbit, sheep, mouse) in several immunological assays; f) immunisation protocols, as well as the most commonly used IgY-extraction procedures; g) new possibilities for application in human and veterinary medicine, including strategies for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection or fatal intestinal diseases in children, particularly in poor countries, for reducing the use of antibiotics, and, in Asia and South America, for producing Abs against snake, spider and scorpion venoms; and h) the use of IgY Abs in various fields of research, also taking into consideration recent developments in South America (particularly Argentina and Cuba) and in Asia.