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Previous studies indicated that the pathogenesis of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) may vary depending on the age of the infected chicken. The reason for this difference is not clear, immunopathogenesis studies comparing different age groups are lacking. In the present study the IBDV-immunopathogenesis was compared in 12-day-old and 28-day-old specific-pathogen-free layer-type chickens. Birds were inoculated with the classic virulent strain IBDV-IM. Interestingly, the up-regulation of interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin-1beta expression varied between the two IBDV-infected age groups. The cytokine expression pattern was different between IBDV-infected age groups in magnitude and timing not only in bursal tissue and caecal tonsils but also in the spleen. No variations between the different age groups were observed in IBDV-induced bursa lesions, accumulation of intrabursal T cells and macrophages, and systemic stimulation of the release of nitric oxide inducing factors. Furthermore, virus-neutralizing antibody levels were comparable between age groups. Under these experimental conditions, age-related differences were found only for the cytokine patterns but interestingly this did not influence the outcome of the disease with IBDV-IM.