Short communication: Gender and heat stress effects on hypothalamic gene expression and feed intake in broilers

Angélica S. Khatlab, Ana P. Del Vesco, Elenice R. Goes, Adhemar R. O. Neto, Maria A. M. Soares, Eliane Gasparino


Our study aims to evaluate gender and heat stress effects on animal performance and on the expression of five hypothalamic genes related to feed consumption: neuropeptide Y (NPY), ghrelin (GHRL), pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPKα-1), and liver kinase B1 (LKB1). To assay these effects, 42-day-old male and female broilers were maintained in thermal comfort or were subjected to heat stress (HS, 38°C for 24 hours). All animals were fed with diets formulated to meet their nutritional requirements. Broilers subjected to HS showed lower weight gain (p=0.0065) and tended to have lower feed intake (p=0.0687) than broilers kept in comfortable conditions. We observed gender and heat stress interaction effects on NPY (p=0.0225), AMPKα-1 (p=0.0398), and POMC expression (p=0.0072). The highest NPY gene expression was observed in male broilers from the thermal comfort group. Male broilers exposed to HS showed the highest AMPKα-1 gene expression levels. Comparing POMC expression between males and females at the comfortable temperature, we observed that females showed higher POMC expression levels than male broilers. A gender effect was also observed on LKB1 and AMPKα-1 gene expression (p=0.0256 and p=0.0001, respectively); increased expression was observed in male broilers. Our results indicate that the expression of some hypothalamic genes related to food consumption may contribute to the observed differences in voluntary feed intake between animals of different gender exposed to different environmental conditions.


female broilers, Gallus gallus;, orexigenic genes; anorexigenic genes; heat stress

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2018161-11737