Study of the hepatic growth hormone (GH) receptor at different ages in chickens selected for a good feed conversion (FC) and a fast weight gain (GL).
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The influence of genetic selection for improved feed conversion (FC) and fast growth (GL) in broiler chickens, on the hepatic growth hormone receptor was investigated as a function of age. Selection for improved feed conversion resulted in lean chickens, whereas selection for fast growth resulted in fat chickens. Growth hormone receptor characteristics were determined in liver microsomal fractions and plasma GH concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay. Embryos from the FC line showed higher specific GH binding than GL embryos at day 16 of embryonic development only (P < 0.05). On day 18 of embryonic development, the FC line had slightly more GH receptors than the GL line (P < 0.05), whereas simultaneous plasma GH concentrations were greater in the GL line. The effect of selection on hepatic growth hormone binding was greatest in 4 week old growing chicks at which age the GL line showed a 2- to 3-fold higher % of specific binding than the FC line (P < 0.001). The difference at this stage is probably due to down regulation of the receptor by the significantly higher GH concentrations in the FC line. The adult GL chickens also showed higher specific binding than FC, but the difference was less pronounced than in the growing stage (P < 0.05). This was due to a higher number of GH receptors, while receptor affinity was unchanged. Because no line difference in plasma GH concentrations was found in adult hens, other unknown mechanisms probably play a role in determining differences in GH receptor binding between these selected lines at older ages.