Dietary supplementation with linseed oil improves semen quality, reproductive hormone, gene and protein expression related to testosterone synthesis in aging layer breeder roosters

Theriogenology. 2019 Jun;131:9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2019.03.016. Epub 2019 Mar 21.


Omega-3/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3/n-3 PUFAs) play an important role in male reproductive function. The present study was designed to evaluate the effects of linseed oil (LO) as a source of α-linolenic acid (ALA, n-3 PUFA) on semen quality, plasma reproductive hormone and expression of key enzyme and protein related to steroidogenesis in aging layer breeder roosters. Ninety-six 57-wk-old Nongda No.3 layer breeder roosters were randomly assigned into one of four dietary treatments. All birds were fed a basal diet for 1wk and then assigned to a corn-soybean meal-based diet containing 0, 1, 2, 4% LO for 4 wk. After feeding trial, the roosters were slaughtered and investigated. The results showed that semen volume was dramatically increased relative to the other treatments in 2% LO group (P < 0.05). With an increase in dietary LO, semen concentration, sperm viability, sperm motility and total sperm count increased linearly (P < 0.05). Plasma follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level increased gradually and reached a maximum when 4% LO was fed (P < 0.01). Plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in 1% and 2% LO group were improved significantly (P < 0.05) relative to the control group. Plasma testosterone (T) levels were remarkably improved compared with the control when birds were fed 2% and 4% LO (P < 0.05). A significant increase of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) mRNA expression in 2% and 4% LO group was observed relative to the control group (P < 0.05). An increase in dietary LO supplementation from 1% to 4% markedly enhanced (P < 0.05) the mRNA expression of cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc) compared to the control. A significant increase (P < 0.05) in the Steroidogenic Factor 1 (SF-1) mRNA levels was observed in the 2% and 4% LO-added groups. SF-1 protein expression was markedly increased by adding LO in diets (P < 0.05), and reached a maximum in 2% LO group. In conclusion, the results above suggest that dietary LO may improve semen quality by increasing the T hormone secretion, which may be related to higher StAR and P450scc mRNA expression and SF-1 expression. These findings provide a potential for using LO to attenuate the age-related sub-fertility in commercial layer breeder roosters.

Keywords: Linseed oil; Reproductive hormone; Rooster; Semen quality; Testosterone synthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Linseed Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Random Allocation
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Semen / drug effects*
  • Semen Analysis / veterinary*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Testosterone
  • Linseed Oil