Fast-growing chickens have a limited ability to tolerate high temperatures. Thermal manipulation during embryogenesis (TM) has previously been shown to lower chicken body temperature (Tb) at hatching and to improve thermotolerance until market age, possibly resulting from changes in metabolic regulation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects of TM (12 h/d, 39.5°C, 65% RH from d 7 to 16 of embryogenesis vs. 37.8°C, 56% RH continuously) and of a subsequent heat challenge (32°C for 5 h at 34 d) on the mRNA expression of metabolic genes and cell signaling in the Pectoralis major muscle and the liver. Gene expression was analyzed by RT-qPCR in 8 chickens per treatment, characterized by low Tb in the TM groups and high Tb in the control groups. Data were analyzed using the general linear model of SAS considering TM and heat challenge within TM as main effects. TM had significant long-term effects on thyroid hormone metabolism by decreasing the muscle mRNA expression of deiodinase DIO3. Under standard rearing conditions, the expression of several genes involved in the regulation of energy metabolism, such as transcription factor PGC-1α, was affected by TM in the muscle, whereas for other genes regulating mitochondrial function and muscle growth, TM seemed to mitigate the decrease induced by the heat challenge. TM increased DIO2 mRNA expression in the liver (only at 21°C) and reduced the citrate synthase activity involved in the Krebs cycle. The phosphorylation level of p38 Mitogen-activated-protein kinase regulating the cell stress response was higher in the muscle of TM groups compared to controls. In conclusion, markers of energy utilization and growth were either changed by TM in the Pectoralis major muscle and the liver by thermal manipulation during incubation as a possible long-term adaptation limiting energy metabolism, or mitigated during heat challenge. © 2014 Loyau et al.
Loyau, T., Métayer-Coustard, S., Berri, C., Crochet, S., Cailleau-Audouin, E., Sannier, M., … Collin, A. (2014). Thermal manipulation during embryogenesis has long-term effects on muscle and liver metabolism in fast-growing chickens. PLoS ONE, 9(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105339