Depression of leukocyte protein synthesis, immune function and growth performance induced by high environmental temperature in broiler chickens

Kamel, Nancy N. ; Ayman Ahmed ; Mehaisen, Gamal M. K. ; Mashaly, Magdi M. ; Abass, Ahmed O. 


© 2017, ISB. In tropical and semitropical regions, raising broiler chickens out of their thermal comfort zone can cause an added economic loss in the poultry industry. The cause for the deleterious effects on immunity and growth performance of broilers under high environmental temperatures is still poorly understood. Therefore, the aim of the current investigation was to evaluate the effect of heat stress on leukocytes protein synthesis and immune function as a possible direct cause of low performance in broiler chickens under such condition. In this study, 300 one-day-old male broiler chicks (Cobb500™) were randomly assigned into 2 groups with 5 replicates of 30 chicks each. From 21 to 42 days of age, one group was exposed to non-stressed condition at 24 °C and 50% relative humidity (control group), while the other group was exposed to heat stress at 35 °C and 50% relative humidity (HS group). At 42 days of age, blood samples were collected from each group to evaluate stress indicators, immune function, and leukocytes protein synthesis. Production performance was also recorded. Noteworthy, protein synthesis in leukocytes was significantly (P < 0.05) inhibited in HS group by 38% compared to control group. In contrast, the phosphorylation level on threonine 56 site (Thr56) of eukaryotic elongation factor (eEF2), which indicates the suppression of protein translation process through altering the protein elongation phase, was significantly threefold higher in HS group than in control (P < 0.05). In addition, an increase in stress indicators was markedly (P < 0.05) presented in the HS birds by twofold increase in heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratio and threefold increase in plasma corticosterone level compared to control. Furthermore, the immune function was significantly (P < 0.05) suppressed in HS birds than control (0.99 vs. 1.88 mg/mL plasma IgG, 89.2 vs. 148.0 μg/mL plasma IgM, 4.80 vs. 7.20 antibody titer against SRBC, and 1.38 vs. 3.39 stimulation index of lymphocyte proliferation in HS vs. control group, respectively). Moreover, results on the broiler performance indicate that HS birds had a significant (P < 0.05) lower body weight gain by 58%, lower feed consumption by 39%, higher conversion ratio by 27%, and higher mortality by more than three times, compared to control birds. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the inhibition of leukocyte protein synthesis through increasing the level of eEF2 Thr56 phosphorylation may play a key role in the observed decrease in immune function and growth performance with the high mortality rate encountered in broiler chickens under heat stress environment.

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Keywords heat stress, ELISA, immunity, protein synthesis, leukocyte, broiler, environmental temperature
Issue Date 2017
Journal International Journal of Biometeorology 

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