The effect of heat stress on ovarian function of laying hens

I. Rozenboim*, E. Tako, O. Gal-Garber, J. A. Proudman, Z. Uni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Reproductive failure associated with heat stress is a well-known phenomenon. The mechanism involved in this failure is not clearly understood. In order to test a possible direct effect of heat stress on ovarian function, 36 White Leghorn laying hens were housed in individual cages in 2 temperature- and light-controlled rooms (n = 18). At 31 wk of age, one group was exposed daily for 12 h to high temperature (42 ± 3°C), and the second group was maintained under thermoneutral conditions (24 to 26°C) and served as control. Body temperature, feed intake, egg production, and egg weight were recorded daily; heparinized blood samples were drawn every 3 d for plasma hormonal level of luteinizing hormone, follicular stimulating hormone, progesterone, 17β-estradiol, and testosterone. Six days after exposure half of the birds in each group were killed, and the ovary and oviduct were weighed and preovulatory follicles removed and extracted for mRNA of Cytochrome P 450 aromatase, 17-α hydroxylase. The same procedure was repeated 9 d later with the rest of the birds. Short and long heat exposure caused significant hyperthermia and reduction of egg production, egg weight, ovarian weight, and the number of large follicles. In addition, a significant reduction in plasma progesterone and testosterone was detected 2 d after exposing the birds to heat stress, and plasma 17β-estradiol was significantly reduced 14 d after initiation of heat stress. Short exposure to heat stress caused significant reduction in mRNA expression of cytochrome P450 17-α hydroxylase, exposing the birds to long-term heat stress caused significant reduction in expression of mRNA of both steroidogenic enzymes. No significant change was found in plasma luteinizing hormone and follicular stimulating hormone levels during the entire experimental period. We suggest a possible direct effect of heat stress on ovarian function.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1760-1765
Number of pages6
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2007


  • Egg production
  • Gonadotropin
  • Heat stress
  • Reproduction
  • Steroid


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of heat stress on ovarian function of laying hens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this