Effects of feed restriction and realimentation on digestive and immune function in the leghorn chick

C. A. Fassbinder-Orth, W. H. Karasov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


How regulatory changes of digestive and immune functions of the gut influence each other has not been sufficiently studied. We tested for simultaneous changes in the digestive physiology and mucosal immune function of the guts of White Leghorn cockerel chicks undergoing food restriction and realimentation. Chicks were assigned to 1 of 3 groups: control = fed ad libitum 7 to 17 d of age; restricted = feed restricted d 12 to 17 (at 2 restriction levels: 54 and 34% ad libitum); refed = feed restricted d 7 to 13 and then fed ad libitum d 14 to 17. Refed chicks exhibited 1 d of hyperphagy and an increase in apparent digestive efficiency following restriction (ANOVA, P <0.001). Total small intestine mass and duodenal maltase activity differed among the groups in the order refed > control > restricted, as expected (ANOVA, P <0.05 for both measures). In contrast, there were no significant treatment effects on our measures of gut immune structure and function, including bursa mass, spleen mass, and total IgA content of intestinal flush samples measured with standard ELISA techniques. The results of this study indicated that, during feed restriction and realimentation, some features of gut immune function are maintained unchanged in the face of regulatory changes that influence digestive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1456
Number of pages8
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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