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Poult Sci. 2009 Oct;88(10):2101-7. doi: 10.3382/ps.2009-00220.

Effects of different levels of vitamin E on growth performance and immune responses of broilers under heat stress.

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College of Animal Science & Technology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, PR China.


This experiment was undertaken to evaluate the effect of dietary vitamin E on growth performance and immune response of broilers under heat stress (HS). Birds raised in either a thermoneutral (23.9 degrees C constant) or HS (23.9 to 38 degrees C cycling) environment were fed a corn-soybean meal basal diet supplemented with vitamin E at 0, 100, or 200 mg/kg, respectively. Two hundred forty 1-d-old male broiler chicks were randomly assigned to 6 groups; each group had 4 replicates of 10 birds. Humoral immunity was assessed by i.v. injection of 7% SRBC followed by evaluation of serum for antibody titers in primary and secondary responses. Cell-mediated immunity was assessed by using a Sephadex stimulation method to recruit abdominal exudate cells (AEC) to evaluate macrophage phagocytic ability. Body weight and feed intake were not significantly influenced by dietary vitamin E (P>0.05), whereas feed conversion was significantly affected by vitamin E at 100 mg/kg (P<0.05). Heat stress significantly reduced BW, feed intake, and feed conversion (P<0.05). Numbers of AEC, percentage of macrophages in AEC, phagocytic macrophages, and internalized opsonized and unopsonized SRBC were increased by dietary vitamin E (P<0.05). Both primary and secondary antibody responses were significantly increased by dietary vitamin E when birds were exposed to HS (P<0.05). Lymphoid organ weights, antibody responses, incidence of macrophages in AEC, and phagocytic ability of macrophages were all significantly reduced under HS. These results indicated that HS severely reduced growth performance and immune response of broilers, whereas the immune response of broilers could be improved by dietary vitamin E supplementation under HS.

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