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Stress impairs the reproduction of laying hens: an involvement of energy

  • X.J. WANG (a1), L. LIU (a1), J.P. ZHAO (a1), H.C. JIAO (a1) and H. LIN (a1)...


The reduction of reproductive performance associated with stress is a known phenomenon in domestic birds. This review demonstrates the involvement of glucocorticoids, a stress hormone, in the decision-making process regarding energy ingestion and distribution in laying hens. During the energetic challenge induced by a stressful environment, corticosterone stimulates energy intake and a preference for a high-fat diet by up-regulating neuropeptide Y (NPY) expression via the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway. The elevated corticosterone levels in response to stressors may be associated with suppressed reproduction in laying hens via a possible perturbation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Corticosterone suppresses follicular development and is energy dependent by decreasing the availability of the circulating yolk precursor and the prevention of yolk deposition in follicles. Energy status is also involved in rejuvenation in moult hens.


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