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Br Poult Sci. 2003 Sep;44(4):612-9.

Effect of canthaxanthin content of the maternal diet on the antioxidant system of the developing chick.

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  • 1Avian Science Research Centre, Animal Health Group, SAC, Auchincruive, Ayr, Scotland.


1. Effects of canthaxanthin supplementation of the maternal diet on the antioxidant system of the developing chick were investigated. 2. Three hundred and twenty female broiler breeder birds were housed in one of 4 controlled environment rooms with 3 replicates for all treatments, with the exception of the control treatment of which there were 4 replicates. All birds received one of 5 diets: control low xanthophyll diet, or the same diet supplemented with 3, 6, 12 or 24 mg/kg canthaxanthin in the form of Carophyll Red. At 30 weeks of age 60 eggs from each of the 5 groups were incubated. At d 16 of the embryo development, at d 1 and d 7 posthatch tissue samples were collected and analysed by HPLC-based methods. 3. Canthaxanthin accumulation in the egg yolk was proportional to dietary content. Furthermore, at 12 to 24 mg/kg canthaxanthin was associated with an increase in gamma-tocopherol concentration in the egg yolk. Canthaxanthin was transferred from the egg yolk to the developing embryo and, as a result, its concentration in the liver of the embryo at 16 and in 1-d-old chicks was increased. Even at d 7 posthatch canthaxanthin concentration in the chicken liver was elevated. 4. Canthaxanthin supplementation of the maternal diet at 12 mg/kg was associated with an increased alpha-tocopherol concentration in the liver of 1-d-old chicks and resulted in decreased tissue susceptibility to lipid peroxidation. 5. Canthaxanthin supplementation at 6 to 24 mg/kg was also associated with a delay in alpha-tocopherol depletion from the liver for 7-d posthatch. As a result of the increased canthaxanthin and vitamin E concentrations in the liver of 7-d-old chicks, tissue susceptibility to lipid peroxidation decreased. 6. The results support an idea that dietary carotenoids can modulate antioxidant systems of the developing chicken.

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