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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 1998 Jan;109(1):140-53.

Dietary protein restriction stress in the domestic turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) induces hypofunction and remodeling of adrenal steroidogenic tissue.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford 08084, USA. carsiaro@umdnj.edu


In the present study, we investigated the influence of dietary protein restriction stress on adrenal steroidogenic function of the domestic turkey. Immature male turkeys (2 weeks old) were fed isocaloric synthetic diets containing either 28% (control) or 8% (restriction) soy protein for 4 weeks. Trunk plasma was processed for the determination of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), corticosterone, aldosterone, and total 3, 5, 3'-triiodothyronine (T3). In addition, adrenal glands were processed for the isolation of defined, density-separable, adrenal steroidogenic cell subpopulations: three low-density adrenal steroidogenic cell subpopulations [LDAC-1 (rho = 1.0350-1.0490 g/ml). LDAC-2 (rho = 1.0490-1.0570 g/ml), and LDAC 3 (rho = 1.0370-1.0585 g/ml)] and a high-density subpopulation [HDAC (rho = 1.0590-1.0720 g/ml)], and the steroidogenic function of these cell subpopulations was evaluated. Protein restriction did not influence plasma ACTH However, it increased relative adrenal weight (mg/100 g body wt) (+37.8%) and plasma corticosterone (+317%). By contrast, it depressed plasma aldosterone (-51.2%). In addition, it caused a modest depression in plasma T3 (-25.9%). At the cellular level, protein restriction induced panhypofunction. Basal corticosteroid (aldosterone and corticosterone) production values of LDAC-1, -2, and -3 and HDAC from protein-restricted birds were, respectively, 42.9, 47.9, 30.8, and 57.5% less than those of corresponding cell subpopulations from control birds. In addition, maximal corticosteroid production values of LDAC-1, -2, and -3 and HDAC from protein-restricted birds, in response to ACTH, angiotensin II (AngII), and 25-hydroxycholesterol support, were depressed by 56.8, 55.1, 22.7, and 42.9%, respectively. Interestingly, LDAC-3 was relatively refractory to the influence of this stressor. By contrast, there was the lack of a concentration-dependent aldosterone response of LDAC-1 and -2 to AngII with protein restriction. This was not due to a failure in cell function since aldosterone responses of these cell subpopulations to ACTH and to 25-hydroxycholesterol support were apparent. In addition, the concentration of AngII receptors of cell subpopulations from protein-restricted turkeys, if anything, was greater than that of cell subpopulations from control turkeys. Protein restriction also altered the cell subpopulation composition of the adrenal gland: compared to control, it decreased the proportion of LDAC-2 by 42.3% and increased the proportion of LDAC-3 and HDAC by 68.7 and 302%, respectively. Thus, dietary protein restriction induces adrenal steroidogenic hypofunction in turkeys. In addition, the present study suggests that this nutritional stressor induces marked remodeling of the steroidogenic tissue in the turkey adrenal gland.

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