Hypobaric hypoxia in ascites resistant and susceptible broiler genetic lines influences gut morphology. Academic Article uri icon


  • Genetic selection based on rapid growth rates, improved feed conversion, and increased body weights has led to a predisposition to ascites in broiler populations. Sire-family selection was applied to a commercial elite line to produce divergent lines of ascites-resistant (RES) and ascites-susceptible (SUS) broilers by the 8th generation. One objective of this research was to determine the effects of hypobaric hypoxia on gut morphology in these genetic lines. In two separate trials, pedigree broiler chickens were randomly assigned to cages in a hypobaric chamber (simulated 2,900 m above sea level) or a matching local altitude chamber (390 m above sea level). Ascites incidence was characterized by heart enlargement and fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. At the end of the study on d 42, all surviving birds were killed and evaluated for the presence of ascites and 2-cm sections from the duodenum and lower ileum were collected from 5 chickens per line, per altitude for each trial for morphometric analysis. At a high altitude, ascites incidence was lower in the RES line (20.9 and 3.7%) than in the SUS line (86.4 and 66.9%, Trials 1 and 2, respectively). No ascites was observed at a local altitude. Under hypoxic conditions, duodenum villus surface area was higher (P < 0.05) in the RES line (181.3 +/- 16.8 and 219 +/- 10.9 microm) compared with the SUS line (130.1 +/- 10.5 and 134.3 +/- 9.3 microm; Trials 1 and 2, respectively). No differences in ileum villus morphology were observed for any of the parameters measured. The reduced surface area in the duodenum of birds selected for ascites susceptibility suggests reduced enteric function and may provide clues as to why these birds have increased incidence of ascites.

published proceedings

  • Poult Sci

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • de los, S., Tellez, G., Farnell, M. B., Balog, J. M., Anthony, N. B., Pavlidis, H. O., & Donoghue, A. M.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • de los, Santos F Solis||Tellez, G||Farnell, MB||Balog, JM||Anthony, NB||Pavlidis, HO||Donoghue, AM

publication date

  • January 2005