Temporal expression of avian β defensin 10 and cathelicidins in the yolk sac tissue of broiler and layer embryos

Poult Sci. 2023 Feb;102(2):102334. doi: 10.1016/j.psj.2022.102334. Epub 2022 Nov 12.


The yolk sac is a multifunctional organ, which not only participates in nutrient absorption, but also plays an important role in immune function. The objective of this study was to compare the mRNA abundance of avian β-defensin 10 (AvBD10) and 3 cathelicidins (CATH1, CATH2, and CATH3) in the yolk sac tissue (YST) of commercial broilers and white egg and brown egg commercial layers. AvBD10 and CATH mRNA abundance was analyzed using two-way ANOVA and Tukey's test, with P < 0.05 being considered significant. AvBD10 and CATH mRNA showed similar temporal expression patterns in the YST of both broiler and layers, with an increase from embryonic day (E) 7 to E9 through E13 followed by a decrease to day of hatch. AvBD10 mRNA showed a breed × age interaction with greater expression in the YST of both layers compared to broilers at E9 and E11. CATH1 mRNA was greater in the YST of brown egg layers than broilers. CATH2 mRNA showed a breed × age interaction, with greater expression in the YST of brown egg layers than broilers at E11. CATH3 mRNA showed no difference in the YST between layers and broilers. Because broilers and brown egg layers are genetically related, these results show that selection for production parameters (broiler vs. layer) and not genetic relatedness (white egg layer vs. brown egg layer and broilers) is the basis for the differences in AvBD10, CATH1, and CATH2 mRNA in the YST of broilers and layers. The yolk-free body weights of broiler embryos were greater than that of both brown and white egg layers from E9 to 17. One possible explanation is that the reduced expression of AvBD10, CATH1 and CATH2 mRNA in the YST of broilers compared to layers at E9 and 11 may be due to faster embryonic growth at the expense of host defense peptide expression in broilers compared to layers.

Keywords: avian β defensin; broiler; cathelicidin; layer; yolk sac tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cathelicidins / metabolism
  • Chickens*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Yolk Sac / metabolism
  • beta-Defensins* / genetics
  • beta-Defensins* / metabolism


  • beta-Defensins
  • Cathelicidins
  • RNA, Messenger