Beneficial Effects of Maternal Vitamin E Supplementation on the Antioxidant System of the Neonate Chick Brain

  • Tsai, H.L. (Department of Food Nutrition, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology) ;
  • Chang, Sam K.C. (Department of Cereal and Food Sciences, North Dakota State University) ;
  • Lin, Y.F. (Division of Technical Service, Livestock Research Institute, Council of Agriculture) ;
  • Chang, S.J. (Department of Life Sciences, National Cheng Kung University)
  • Received : 2007.04.17
  • Accepted : 2007.06.22
  • Published : 2008.02.01


Oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the laying stage which is a critical period for chick survival. We investigated the relationship of neonatal chick performance, brain antioxidant status and vitamin E supplementation level in hens. Starting at 17 weeks, hens were randomly divided into five groups. The control group received a basal diet without supplemental vitamin E (VE, dl-${\alpha}$-tocopherol acetate). Other groups received the same basal diet supplemented with vitamin E (40, 80, 120 and 160 mg/kg) through growth to egg production. Hens were artificially inseminated at 28 weeks of age and egg yolks were collected at day two. All remaining eggs were hatched. Yolk vitamin E content, hatchability and fertility of eggs were evaluated. Brains of the newly hatched chicks were further evaluated for their oxidative stress status, antioxidative status and vitamin E levels. Increased reproductive performance was observed in fertility and hatchability in the group supplemented at 40 mg/kg. Egg yolk and neonatal brain ${\alpha}$-tocopherol was highest in eggs from hens fed 120 mg/kg and 80 mg/kg supplemental vitamin E, respectively. Brain MDA, ROS and iron levels were significantly higher in unsupplemented hens (p<0.01). SOD activity was significantly higher in the group supplemented at 160 mg/kg than in all other groups. We concluded that maternal supplementation of vitamin E had beneficial effects on fertility, hatchability of eggs, neonatal brain oxidative status and SOD activity.


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