1. The principal tissue changes in the respiratory tract of chickens caused by a vitamin A deficiency in the food are, first, an atrophy and degeneration of the lining mucous membrane epithelium as well as of the epithelium of the mucous membrane glands. This process is followed or accompanied by a replacement or substitution of the degenerating original epithelium of these parts by a squamous stratified keratinizing epithelium. This newly formed epithelium develops from the primitive columnar epithelium and divides and grows very rapidly. The process appears to be one of substitution rather than a metaplasia, and resembles the normal keratinization of the skin or even more closely the incomplete keratinization of the mucous membranes (e.g., the esophagus or certain parts of the tongue of chickens). In this connection findings have been described which not only afford an interesting insight into the complicated mechanism of keratinization, but also show probable relations between keratinization and the development of Guarnieri's inclusion bodies. Balloon and reticular degeneration of the upper layers of the new stratified epithelium has been frequently observed. All parts of the respiratory tract are about equally involved in the process; and the olfactory region as well, so that the sense of smell may be lost. The lesions, which first take place on the surface epithelium and then in the glands, show only minor differences.
2. The protective mechanism inherent in the mucous membranes of the entire respiratory tract is seriously damaged or even entirely destroyed by the degeneration of the ciliated cells at the surface and the lack of secretion with bactericidal. properties. Secondary infections are frequently found, and nasal discharge and various kinds of inflammatory processes are common, including purulent ones, especially in the upper respiratory tract, communicating sinuses, eyes and trachea. The development of the characteristic histological process is not dependent upon the presence of these infections, since it also takes place in the absence of infection.
3. The specific histological lesions make it possible to differentiate between A-avitaminosis and some infectious diseases of the respiratory tract.
These studies we hope will serve as a basis for further investigations on the relationship between A-avitaminosis and infection in general.