Molecular responses of neonatally heat stressed broilers exposed to acute heat stress

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Virginia Tech


Exposure of broiler cockerels to between 35.0 to 37.8 C for 24 hr at 5 days of age increases their survival when exposed to a heat challenge at 6 weeks of age (35.0-37.8 C; RH 50% ). This' phenomenon does not resemble acclimation since the physiological changes known to occur in acclimated birds exposed to heat have not been observed in the neonatally stressed birds. A series of experiments were conducted to elucidate the mechanisms of neonatally induced thermotolerance. In Experiment 1, the erythrocyte protein profile of control and 5 days heated birds prior to and during exposure to acute heat were determined. Prior to juvenile heat exposure no differences in the erythrocytic protein profile of neonatally stressed and control birds were observed at any age (10, 17, 24, 31 and 38 days of age) when maintained under control conditions. However, upon exposure to an acute heat challenge (40.5 C; 52 days of age) temporal and differential expressions of proteins similar in molecular weight to heat shock proteins (HSPs) were observed between the neonatally stressed and control birds. In Experiment 2, the effects of neonatal heat stress at various ages (5, 8, 12, 16 days of age) on the protein synthesis profile of heart, brain (telencephalon, diencephalon, brain stem, cerebellum) and liver tissues during exposure to an acute heat challenge were studied. In addition, body temperature during neonatal heat exposure was monitored. A significant increase in body temperature was observed during neonatal heat stress. A steady increase in the magnitude of the temperature change was noticed up to 12 days of age. Body temperature of birds exposed to neonatal heat at 16 days of age was similar to that of birds heated at 5 days of age.