Interactive effects of dietary lipids and vitamin E level on performance, blood eicosanoids, and response to mitogen stimulation in broiler chickens of different ages

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The effects of the dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) n-6:n-3 ratio and vitamin E (vE) on the levels of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, the incorporation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) into immune tissues, and changes in leukocyte population after phytohemagglutinin (PHA) challenge were investigated in broiler chickens of different ages. One-day-old female broilers (48 per treatment) were fed 4 different wheat-soybean-corn-based diets containing corn oil with a high PUFA n-6:n-3 ratio (HR) or a mixture of linseed and fish oils with a low PUFA n-6:n-3 ratio (LR). Diets contained either 50 mg vE kg-1 of diet (basal vE) or 300 mg vE kg-1 of diet (increased vE). At d 14 and d 34, 8 chickens per treatment were challenged with PHA, and wing web swelling (WWS) was measured. The blood concentration of leukotriene (LTB4), prostaglandin (PGE2), and thromboxane (TBX2) in 17-day-old and 43-day-old chickens was determined. The pattern of AA and DHA incorporation into bursa, spleen, and brain lipids reflected the level of their precursors in the diet. WWS was the highest in chickens fed a LR diet and in 14-day-old chickens (P < 0.01). Leukocyte proportions varied with dietary PUFA n-6:n-3 ratio and with age. The heterophil:lymphocyte ratio was the highest at 6 h post PHA challenge, and was higher in 34-day-old chickens (P < 0.001). TBX2 and PGE2 concentrations were higher in chickens fed HR diet, whereas TBX2 and LTB4 concentrations were lower at high vE level. Lower PGE2 and LTB4, but higher TBX2 concentrations were measured in younger birds (P < 0.001). The results indicated that LR increased the phagocytic cell proportion in the blood; HR promoted the incorporation of AA into the immune tissues, which increased the levels of more pro-inflammatory eicosanoids in the blood; and vE counteracts these effects to some extent. Owing to the immaturity of the immune system, dietary interventions might be promising at the early stage of chicken growth.

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