Evaluation of Viral-Induced Stress by Quantitating Corticosterone in Feathers of Virus-Infected Specific Pathogen-Free Chicks

I. Davidson*, A. Altory-Natour, R. Haddas, S. Nagar, R. Meir, N. Avital-Cohen, I. Rozenboim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Physiological stress is known to promote economic losses by causing immunosuppression. Various factors induce stress, including non-optimal management and infection with various pathogens. The concentration of the stress hormone, corticosterone, is indicative of stress in birds. However, its measurement is difficult due to its elevation caused by catching, handling, bleeding, short half-life in the blood, and short secretion period in feces. We describe a novel method to assess corticosterone concentration by sampling feathers. The viruses studied were 2 immunosuppressive viruses, Marek's disease virus and chicken anemia virus, the respiratory viruses, influenza virus H9N2, Newcastle disease virus, and Infectious bronchitis virus. The study contributes novelty as virus-induced stress by feather examination was described sporadically in chickens previously, and feathers were used to detect corticosterone mainly in dead wild and captive birds. Also, the development of extraction method from feathers is novel by using PBS instead of methanol, and by preparing the feather homogenate with steroid displacement reagent. The study findings revealed that virus infections increased the corticosterone concentrations in feather tips to various extents, from 2× to 10× fold, demonstrating that birds endure stress in addition to the clinical and pathological effects induced by the virus infections.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)48-63
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Poultry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2019 The Author(s)


  • SPF chickens
  • corticosterone
  • feathers
  • viral-induced stress
  • virus infection


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