Effects of genetic selection for fast growth on the development of wooden breast myopathy in broilers

Br Poult Sci. 2023 Dec;64(6):773-780. doi: 10.1080/00071668.2023.2263879. Epub 2023 Dec 18.


1. This study investigated the physiological and molecular mechanisms leading to wooden breast (WB) by comparing growth parameters, oxygen consumption rate, thyroid hormone and gene expression patterns in fast- versus slow-growing broiler lines (Cobb500 and L1986, respectively).2. WB was observed in Cobb500 broilers only and was first diagnosed on d 21 post-hatch. Compared to the slow-growing L1986, Cobb500 showed a significantly higher growth rate, relative breast weight, breast thickness, meat pH and water-retention capacity (drip loss). Correspondingly, there was significantly lower relative heart weight, relative right ventricular weight, triiodothyronine and thyroxine concentrations and oxygen consumption rate.3. Compared to No-WB Cobb500, the WB-affected samples exhibited higher relative breast weight, breast thickness and drip loss and lower plasma total thyroxine (T4) concentrations.4. Selection for fast growth was associated with differential expression of genes involved in hypoxia (PLOD2), energy metabolism (FABP3, FABP4, CD36, and LPL), endoplasmic reticulum stress, muscle regeneration (CSRP3) and fibre-type switching (ANKRD1). WB-affected samples exhibited an upregulation of CSRP3, PLOD2 and ANKRD1, while CD36 was downregulated. Taken together, selection for fast growth and muscle gain is not matched by adequate cardiac and metabolic support systems.

Keywords: Broilers; breeding; fast growth; metabolism; wooden breast myopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / physiology
  • Muscular Diseases* / genetics
  • Muscular Diseases* / veterinary
  • Pectoralis Muscles / physiology
  • Poultry Diseases* / genetics
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Thyroxine / genetics


  • Thyroxine