Effect of selenium and vitamin E content of the maternal diet on the antioxidant system of the yolk and the developing chick

Br Poult Sci. 2000 May;41(2):235-43. doi: 10.1080/713654909.


1. The effects of selenium and vitamin E supplementation of the maternal diet on their transfer to the egg yolk and tissues of the newly hatched chick and on the development of the antioxidant system in the chick liver in early postnatal life were investigated. 2. One hundred Cobb broiler breeder hens were divided into 10 equal groups and housed in pens at 25 weeks of age. Each hen received 1 of the treatment diets which included 0.2 or 0.4 mg/kg selenium, 40, 100, 200 mg/kg vitamin E or their combination. After 6 weeks, the hens were artificially inseminated once per week. From week 8, eggs were collected and placed in an incubator. After hatching, chicks from each group were reared (under standard commercial conditions) to 10 d of age. The chicks were fed on a standard starter commercial broiler diet. At the time of hatching, and at 5 and 10 days old, 4 chicks from each group were sacrificed and blood, liver and brain were collected for the subsequent biochemical analyses. 3. The inclusion of organic selenium or vitamin E in the commercial diet significantly increased their concentration in the egg and in the liver of 1-d-old chicks obtained from the eggs enriched with these substances. A positive effect of such dietary supplementation was seen at d 5 and d 10 of postnatal development. 4. There was a positive effect of selenium supplementation of the maternal diet on glutathione concentration in the liver of 1-d-old and 5-d-old chicks. A combination of a dietary selenium supplementation with high vitamin E doses further increased glutathione concentration in the liver. Dietary selenium supplementation significantly increased selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase (Se-GSH-Px) activity in the liver of the 1-d-old and 5-d-old chicks and decreased liver susceptibility to peroxidation. 6. It is concluded that the nutritional status of the laying hen determines the efficiency of the antioxidant system throughout embryonic and early postnatal development of the offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chickens / growth & development
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / veterinary
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Egg Yolk / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / analysis
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / analysis
  • Selenium / administration & dosage*
  • Selenium / blood
  • Selenium / physiology
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic / veterinary
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin E / blood
  • Vitamin E / physiology


  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Glutathione
  • Selenium