Ovarian follicular development, lipid peroxidation, antioxidative status and immune response in laying hens fed fish oil-supplemented diets to produce n-3-enriched eggs
p align="left">Abstract

The objective of the present study was to research the effect of feeding laying hens fish oil-supplemented diets to produce n-3-enriched eggs on their ovarian follicular development, serum lipid peroxidation, antioxidative status and immune response.A total of 105 white Bovens hens at 24 weeks of age were housed in cages in an open-sided building under a 16 h light : 8 hdark lighting schedule. Birds were randomly divided into five treatments and were fed, ad libitum, diets containing 0%(control), 1.25%, 2.5%, 3.5% or 5.0% fish oil from 24 to 36 weeks of age. Egg production and weight were recorded. By weeks 35 and 36 of age 15 eggs were taken at random from each treatment to determine the yolk lipid profile and cholesterol content. At the end of the experimental period, 10 females from each treatment were randomly chosen, anaesthetised and killed by decapitation. Ovary and oviduct samples were immediately weighted and ovarian follicles were classified. Serum thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance (TBARS), hepatic TBARS and hepatic glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity were measured. No clear trend was observed concerning egg production and egg yolk cholesterol. As dietary fish oil levels increased, n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) increased, whereas n-6 PUFA tended to decrease in yolk lipids. No negative effects were detected in ovary and oviduct weights, expressed in both absolute terms and relative to body weight. The numbers and total weights of large yellow follicles (LYF) in the ovary were not significantly affected by fish oil supplementation. Low levels(1.25% to 2.5%) of fish oil reduced both plasma and hepatic TBARS and enhanced GSH-Px activity. It is also interesting to note that inclusion of 2.5% fish oil in laying hen diets enhanced the antibody titre in laying hens. Therefore, it could be concluded that inclusion of fish oil in laying hen diets at moderate levels increased the n-3 fatty acids content in eggs, improved antioxidative status, enhanced the antibody response and did not have a negative influence on the different reproductive morphology parameters in laying hens.