Effects of contact dermatitis on hepatic gene expression in broilers

L Sherlock, D E F McKeegan, Z Cheng, C M Wathes, D C Wathes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Severe foot and hock dermatitis in broiler chickens can reduce growth rate and increase susceptibility to bacterial infection, affecting both profitability and welfare. However, little is known about the underlying physiological changes associated with foot and hock lesions. 2. This study compared global hepatic gene expression in control birds and those with ammonia-induced foot and hock lesions using Agilent 44 K chicken oligonucleotide microarrays (8 birds per group). 3. In total, 417 genes were differentially expressed of which 174 could be mapped onto the genome. Genes associated with energy metabolism, thyroid hormone activity and cellular control were affected, while there was also evidence of an up-regulation of genes linked to a pro-inflammatory response. 4. It is conceivable that pain is the underlying cause for the observed changes in energy metabolism genes. 5. Changes in hepatic gene expression provide new information on how a chicken's physiological mechanisms alter to cope with foot and hock lesions. The findings support other data indicating that birds with increased severity of lesions are likely to be in pain and that growth will be compromised. Reduction of the incidence of dermatitis by improved husbandry should therefore benefit both welfare and commercial performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-52
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Ammonia
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Dermatitis
  • Female
  • Foot Diseases
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Incidence
  • Joint Diseases
  • Liver
  • Liver Glycogen
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Poultry Diseases
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Scotland
  • Time Factors


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of contact dermatitis on hepatic gene expression in broilers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this