Forsythia suspensa extract attenuates corticosterone-induced growth inhibition, oxidative injury, and immune depression in broilers

Poult Sci. 2014 Jul;93(7):1774-81. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03772. Epub 2014 May 26.


Forsythia suspensa extract (FSE) has been demonstrated to attenuate physiological stress induced by high temperature or high stocking density. This experiment was conducted with 144 male Arbor Acre broilers (1-d-old, weighing 42.7 ± 1.7 g) to determine the effects of FSE on performance, nutrient digestibility, antioxidant activities, serum metabolites, and immune parameters for birds treated with corticosterone (CS). The birds were randomly allotted to 1 of 4 treatments in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement that included FSE supplementation (0 or 100 mg/kg) and CS administration (0 or 20 mg/kg of diet for 7 consecutive days starting on d 14). The feeding program consisted of a starter diet from d 1 to 21 and a finisher diet from d 22 to 42. Corticosterone administration decreased (P < 0.01) ADG and impaired (P < 0.01) feed conversion ratio in both phases and overall, which were alleviated (P < 0.01) by dietary FSE supplementation in the finisher phase and overall. At d 21, CS administration caused decreases (P < 0.05) in the apparent digestibility of energy, relative weight of bursa and thymus, total antioxidant capacity, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and antibody titers to Newcastle disease virus (NDV); however, serum malondialdehyde and uric acid were increased. All of these changes were attenuated (P < 0.05) by dietary FSE supplementation. At d 42, FSE supplementation improved (P < 0.05) the apparent digestibility of DM and CP, relative weights of bursa, SOD activity, and antibody titers to NDV, which were impaired by CS administration. Interactions (P < 0.05) were noted between CS and FSE for ADG and feed conversion ratio in the finisher phase and overall, as well as total antioxidant capacity, SOD activity, uric acid, and antibody titers to NDV at d 21, as well as relative weights of thymus at d 42. In conclusion, dietary FSE supplementation enhanced nutrient digestibility and performance of broiler possibly by reducing oxidative stress and immune depression challenged by CS.

Keywords: Forsythia suspensa; antioxidant activity; broiler; corticosterone; immune.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / veterinary
  • Chickens / growth & development
  • Chickens / immunology
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Corticosterone / pharmacology
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Forsythia / chemistry*
  • Growth Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Newcastle disease virus / immunology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Corticosterone