British Poultry Science

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Plasma growth hormone concentrations in growth‐retarded, cortisone‐treated chickens S. Harvey & C. G. Scanes To cite this article: S. Harvey & C. G. Scanes (1979) Plasma growth hormone concentrations in growth‐retarded, cortisone‐treated chickens, British Poultry Science, 20:3, 331-335, DOI: 10.1080/00071667908416588 To link to this article:

Published online: 08 Nov 2007.

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Br. Poult. Sci., 20: 331-335. 1979

Longman: printed in Great Britain


Department of Zoology, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, England and Department of Physiology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903, USA

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Received for publication 17th October 1978

1. Weekly variations in body weight, relative body-weight gain and plasma growth hormone (GH) concentrations were determined in control and cortisone-treated (5 mg cortisone acetate/bird d) chickens between 3 and 10 weeks of age. 2. Treatment with cortisone between 3 and 5 weeks of age markedly suppressed growth but did not inhibit GH secretion. 3. After the cortisone injections were stopped these birds grew more rapidly than the controls. However, this period of "catch-up growth" was not accompanied by alterations in plasma GH concentrations.


In birds there is some evidence that growth hormone (GH) may be involved in the control of growth. Administration of GH to neonatal chickens (Myers and Peterson,. 1974), spotted munia (Ghandola and Thapliyal, 1968, 1972) and hypophysectomised pigeons (Bates et al., 1962) enhances body weight, whilst administration of GH antiserum to growing chicks depresses body-weight gain (Scanes et al., 1977). In addition the pattern of GH secretion in chickens (Harvey et al, 1977a, 1979), turkeys (Harvey et al, 1977*) and geese (Scanes et al, 1978) may be related to the rate of body growth, being generally higher in young birds than in adults. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to determine if experimental modification of growth in birds was accompanied by corresponding alterations in GH secretion. Since glucocorticoids suppress growth in birds (Dulin, 1956; Glick, 1957) and since, of the glucocorticoids, cortisone is thought to be inert (Holmes and Phillips, 1976) or to have least potency in affecting carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism in birds (Stamler et al, 1954; Dulin, 1956; Greenman and Zarrow, 1961), we determined the plasma concentrations of GH in control and cortisonetreated chicks. MATERIALS AND METHODS

Male chickens (Thornber 909) were obtained at 1 d old and reared on deep litter under 18 h light: 6 h dark with food (see Harvey et al, 1979) and water available ad libitum. Between 3 and 5 weeks of age 10 cockerels were injected intramuscularly each day with cortisone acetate (5 mg/bird d) in 0*5 ml saline 331



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(9 g/1) containing 250 ml propylene glycol/1. A control group were similarly injected with the saline. Each bird was bled before the start of the treatment schedule and at weekly intervals until 10 weeks of age. The blood samples taken after the 1st and 2nd week of treatment were taken 24 h after the previous injection of the steroid or saline. Blood samples were taken from the brachial vein and collected into heparinised tubes. After centrifugation plasma was separated and stored deep frozen. The body weight of each bird was measured weekly, after bleeding. The concentrations of plasma GH were determined using a specific homologous radio-immunoassay (Harvey and Scanes, 1977). Each plasma sample was assayed in duplicate at two dilutions and all samples were assayed together. The results were examined for statistical differences by a West. RESULTS

In the cortisone-injected birds the relative body-weight gain (percentage gain in weight per week) was significantly less than that in the controls after the 1st and 2nd weeks of treatment (P

Plasma growth hormone concentrations in growth-retarded, cortisone treated chickens.

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