Early posthatch starvation decreases satellite cell proliferation and skeletal muscle growth in chicks

Orna Halevy*, Assaf Geyra, Miriam Barak, Zehava Uni, David Sklan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


The effect of posthatch starvation on skeletal muscle growth and satellite cell proliferation was examined in chicks. Chicks were either fed or starved for 48 h posthatch (d 0-d 2, d 2-d 4 or d 4-d 6) and then refered for 41 d. Body and breast muscle weights were significantly lower in starved chicks than in fed controls throughout the experiment. Histochemical staining revealed that skeletal muscle fiber development in the starved group lagged behind that of the fed group. Starvation from d 2 to 4 and d 4 to 6 posthatch had a progressively lesser effect than did immediate posthatch starvation (P < 0.05). In vitro culturing of breast muscle satellite cells revealed that DNA synthesis and number of cells per gram of muscle in the fed chicks peaked on d 2 and d 3, and then declined. In contrast, DNA synthesis in the cells of starved chicks declined on d 2 and increased on d 3 when chicks were refed. A similar pattern was seen for the number of cells per gram muscle; however, in general cell numbers tended to be higher in the starved group than in controls (P < 0.1). The results obtained with cultured cells were parallel with in situ immunostaining with 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine and proliferating cell nuclear antigen in breast muscle from experimental chicks, and with growth hormone receptor expression. These results suggest that satellite cell cultures are a reliable tool for evaluating muscle growth in postnatal chickens. We conclude that sufficient feed in the immediate postnatal period is critical for satellite cell proliferation and skeletal muscle development and is thus important for optimal muscle growth.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)858-864
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Broiler chickens
  • Growth
  • Satellite cells
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Starvation


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