A Review on the Marek’s Disease Outbreak and Its Virulence-Related meq Genovariation in Asia between 2011 and 2021

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Jehan Zeb
  • Elena Circella
  • Gaia Casalino
  • Antonio Camarda
  • Nicolas Buchon


Original languageEnglish
Article number540
Journal / PublicationAnimals
Issue number5
Online published22 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022



Marek’s disease is an infectious disease in poultry that usually appears in neural and visceral tumors. This disease is caused by Gallid alphaherpesvirus 2 infection in lymphocytes, and its meq gene is commonly used in virulent studies for coding the key protein functional in oncogenic transformation of the lymphocytes. Although vaccines have been introduced in many countries to control its spread and are proven to be efficient, recent records show a decline of such efficiency due to viral evolution. In this study, we reviewed the outbreak of Marek’s disease in Asia for the last 10 years, together with associated meq sequences, finding a total of 36 studies recording outbreaks with 132 viral strains in 12 countries. The visceral type is the most common (13 in 16 studies) form of Marek’s disease, but additional unobserved neural changes may exist. MD induces liver lymphoma most frequently (11 in 14 studies), and tumors were also found in spleen, kidney, heart, gizzard, skin, intestine, lung, and sciatic nerve. Twelve viral strains distributed in China have been reported to escape the CVI988 vaccine, reaching a mortality rate of more than 30%. Phylogenetic analyses show the internal connection between the Middle East (Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia), South Asia (India, Indonesia), and East Asia (China and Japan), while external viral communications might occasionally occur. In 18 strains with both sequential and mortality data, amino acid alignment showed several point substitutions that may be related to its virulence. We suggest more behavioral monitoring in Marek’s disease-endemic regions and further studies on strain virulence, together with its Meq protein structural changes.

Research Area(s)

  • Asia, Marek’s disease, Meq sequence, Pathology, Virus

Bibliographic Note

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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