The effect of parachlorophenylalanine treatment on the activity of gonadal and lactotrophic axes in native Polish crested chickens stimulated to broodiness

Małgorzata Gumułka*, Anna Hrabia, Nataly Avital-Cohen, Krzysztof Andres, Israel Rozenboim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Brooding behavior, a common characteristic of native breeds of the domestic chicken, is marked by elevated prolactin (PRL) levels, which is necessary for incubation and connected with changes in hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis activity. Evidence indicates the serotoninergic system is a potent modulator of PRL secretion. The objective of this study is to investigate whether blocking serotonin synthesis with parachlorophenylalanine (PCPA) prevents incubation behavior in native Polish crested chickens. In addition, we examined the effect of PCPA on the gene expression of the gonadal and lactotrophic axes. Birds were stimulated to broodiness by artificial eggs in nests. At 34 wk of age (April: spring period), the hens were divided into 2 groups (14 hens in each group): control and PCPA-treated (50 mg/kg BW) group. After 5 wk of treatment, the artificial eggs were removed from the nests. Egg production, incubation activity, and levels of plasma ovarian steroids progesterone (P4), testosterone (T), estradiol (E2), and PRL were examined. At the end of the experiment (45 wk of age, June: summer period), ovarian characteristics and mRNA gene expression of gonadal (gonadotropin-releasing hormone [GnRH] I, luteinizing hormone [LH] ß, follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH] ß) and lactotrophic (vasoactive intestinal peptide [VIP], PRL) axes were measured by quantitative real-time PCR. Incubation activity was observed in the hens of both groups but with lower frequency in PCPA-treated birds. Moreover, the PCPA group had a higher cumulative egg production than the controls. During the first six and 8 wk of the experiment, levels of P4 and E2, respectively, were similar in both groups, but all concentrations increased in the PCPA-treated hens after this period. In addition, increased GnRH-I, LHß, and FSHß and decreased VIP mRNA expression was observed in the PCPA group compared with the controls. There were no differences in PRL mRNA expression, the PRL level, and ovarian morphometry between the 2 groups. These results indicate that blockage of serotonin synthesis by PCPA does not effectively prevent incubation in native Polish crested chickens. However, treatment with PCPA increased gonadal axis activity and improved reproductive performance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2708-2717
Number of pages10
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

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  • incubation
  • lactotrophic axis
  • native breed
  • prolactin
  • reproduction


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