During lactation, the nursing mother passively transfers immune components such as immunoglobulins (humoral) and bioactive molecules (cellular) to her offspring 1, 2, 81. In avians, passive transfer of immunity occurs through the vehicle of the egg. Such immune products provide natural resistance to infection and malignancy while the offsprings’ own immune system develops.
There is a body of published 3-14 and unpublished work 15-16, 37-40 reporting that multiple inoculations of chickens or dairy cows over a period of time (i.e., hyperimmunization) with inactivated multivalent bacterial vaccines, results in the production of “immune” eggs or milk. These types of products have polyclonal and specific immunoglobulins against the specific vaccinating antigens. Along with production of immunoglobulins, effector cells produce smaller molecular weight products with potent immunoregulatory functions. These bioactive molecules are immunological factors that modulate autoimmune responses, exhibit pro- and anti-inflammatory activities and affect virtually all bodily functions.
Please note that the information on the following pages is educational material intended for use by health professionals only.
“Hyperimmune” or “immune” egg results (test) from the repeated injection of specially selected hens with a multivalent vaccine containing inactivated pathogenic organisms. To provide neutralization and gastroprotection from orally introduced infectious agents, inactive organisms utilized in such vaccines are frequently of those which cause disease, typically of human enteric origin. This procedure results in the production of polyclonal immunoglobulins of the IgY class (specific to avians) directed against the stimulating organisms.
In addition to production of such immunoglobulins, “immune” eggs contain potent immunoregulatory factors. These bioactive molecules, reminiscent of cytokines, act as intercellular “communicator” signals responsible for regulation of a variety of immune, hormonal, and metabolic pathways. The wide influence of these bioactive molecules is reflected in their ability to systemically regulate the physical states of the host, including immune, gastrointestinal, joint, connective, and cardiovascular systems.
"IMMUNE" EGG AND MILK PRODUCTS
Numerous peer-reviewed studies 17-21, 53 report that “hyperimmune” products have specific immunoglobulins against those agents to which the animals have been immunized. These products also contain immune factors, bioactive cellular signals with immunoregulatory activities 8 , 4 , 10, 12 , 13 , 22 , 75
ORAL ADMINISTRATION OF ANTIBODY
Oral consumption of “immune” eggs or milk containing specific immunoglobulins (or fractions derived there from) protects against the specific organism(s) with which the hen or the cow was stimulated 7, 18-20, 23-26.
Orally administrated immunoglobulins survive passage through the gastrointestinal tract 27 and after excretion, still retain a great deal of their antigen binding ability 8 , 28. In fact they have been suggested as protection against traveler’s diarrhea 79 since there are no side effects and resistance of bacteria to antibodies is unlikely.
EGGS AS A NATURAL SOURCE OF IMMUNOREGULATORY FACTORS
Just as immune protection is transferred in utero in mammals or passively by a lactating mother via colostrum, hens passively transfer protection to their young by secreting immunoglobulin and other immune factors into its egg for use by the hatching chick. The transfer of chicken immunoglobulins from the hen’s serum to the yolk and from the yolk to the chick is analogous to cross-placental transfer of IgG from the mammalian mother to its offspring 29, 30. [IgY (i.e., of yolk) is an immunoglobulin class specific to avians
and analagous in function to that of mammalian immunoglobulins.]
Both eggs and milk (including those in infant formula and breast milk) contain naturally occurring antibodies 31, 34 and there are reports of immunomodulatory factors in milk as well. However, ml for ml immunoglobulin levels in eggs are significantly higher than levels found in serum 31, 35 or milk 20, 36. This should not be surprising since mammals have several weeks or months during which they may passively transfer immunoglobulin and immune factors, while the hen has a single opportunity (the egg) to transfer all necessary survival components to its offspring. All those elements that the chick needs to survive, must be in one concentrated package. Since immunoglobulins and immune factors 37, 40 occur naturally in eggs, and egg products are a common source of protein in human diets, “immune” eggs are a safe, convenient and economical source of specific immunoglobulins 20, 23, 41 and immunoregulatory factors 37, 40. The immune egg, therefore, appears to serve as a concentrated source of immune products 59, 67, 68.
"HYPERIMMUNE" EGGS OBTAINED BY REPEATED INOCULATION OF HENS
Most commercially available chickens are immunized at birth to protect them from avian diseases. The only difference between such supermarket eggs and “immune” eggs, is that the latter are from chickens that have received additional proprietary vaccinations with other inactivated pathogens known to be the etiologic agents of human infection. A partial list of the organisms used in some vaccines are: Shigella dysenteriae, Staphylococcus epidermidis and simulans, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritidis and typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Haemophilis influenzae, and at least 6 species of Streptococcus. Only the chicken (not the egg) is exposed to inactivated pathogens. Immunoglobulins and other immune factors are passively transferred to the egg from the serum for use by the chick. No vaccine components are introduced into the eggs themselves. Only the eggs are consumed, not the hens
PRODUCTION OF POWDERED "HYPERIMMUNE" EGG
After appropriate times following vaccination, eggs are collected from the specially designated chicken flocks, washed, broken and the yolk and egg white are dried to a fine proteineous powder. Various processes have been developed to minimize any heat damage to egg antibodies and immunoregulatory factors during the spray-drying procedure. This is a procedure used daily in the food processing industries. When utilized for human consumption, “immune” eggs are processed under good manufacturing practices (GMP) in USDA-inspected and monitored facilities. After processing, powders may be combined with vitamins and minerals and/or other ingredients to produce high nutritive value formulas.
COMPARISON OF SUPERMARKET EGGS WITH "HYPERIMMUNE" EGGS
The total immunoglobulin content of eggs from hyperimmunized hens is identical to the total level of immunoglobulins found in conventional table eggs. However, the quantities of immunoglobulins to selected antigens are different in the two varieties of eggs. Additionally both the table egg and the “immune” egg contain immunoregulatory factors, but eggs from “hyperimmunized chickens may contain many fold the concentration of individual factors as compared to regular eggs” (unpublished observations).
BIOLOGICALLY ACTIVE COMPOUNDS IN "IMMUNE" EGGS AND MILK
Passively Transferred Antibodies:
With few exceptions 63, 71 oral consumption of specific antibodies are reported to protect humans 1-3, 5, 6, 9, 20, 21, 26, 28, 42-44, 69, 70 and animals. 7, 17, 19, 23, 24, 36, 45-56, 66, 77. In addition, in vitro, avian specific antibodies have been found to inhibit processes associated with bacterial growth, adhesion to intestinal cells, and toxin production. 65
Modulation of autoimmune and inflammatory responses occurs through the mediation of effector cells and their bioactive mediators. Pro- and anti-inflammatory processes are associated with specific classes of effector cells and specific families of effector molecules 60. The category of effector cells (and their secreted immune factors) found during the initiation of inflammation are independent of the area of the body in which inflammation occurs. However, effector cells involved in a pro-inflammatory response will be similar to one another regardless of the area in which the response is occurring (e.g., joints, gasrointestinal, Islets of Langerhans, etc.) Similarly, during resolution of inflammatory processes, the effector cell population and their mediators will differ from those found in pro-inflammatory responses, but be similar in type to those found at other sites where resolution is occurring.
The cellular interactions in atherogenesis are fundamentally no different from those in chronic inflammatory… diseases such as cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, glomerulosclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and chronic pancreatitis… 57. The pathways leading to specific immunological effects and to resolution of such responses are similar irrespective of whether the mechanism of action is in the joint, gastrointestinal system, nasal passages, cardiovascular organs, etc. The basic mechanisms remain the same 57, 58, 60. The final course of the immunological response is determined ultimately by whether an immunoregulatory compound will act as an activator, or an inhibitor. Thus immunomodulatory factors in immune eggs participate in pathways throughout the body.
Two major categories of immune components are found in “hyperimmune” egg. These are 1) immunoglobulins with neutralizing specificities against the stimulating pathogens. and 2) immunoregulatory factors that modulate cellular functions. The immunoglobulins provide local protection against gastrointestinal intoxication. The immunomodulatory mediators act directly on gastrointestinal surfaces, and circulate systemically affecting every immune, physical, metabolic 61, neuroendocrine 62 pathway in the body.