ABSTRACT

White striping is the white striation occasionally observed parallel to the direction of muscle fibers in broiler breast fillets and thighs at the processing plant. Broiler breast fillets can be categorized as normal (NORM), moderate (MOD), or severe (SEV) based on the degree of white striping. Histologically, SEV fillets are characterized by the highest degree of degeneration of muscle fibers along with fibrosis and lipidosis when compared with NORM. The present study was undertaken to compare the hematologic and serologic profiles of broilers with NORM and SEV degrees of white striping to get more information on the systemic changes associated with the condition. Day-old male broiler chicks of a commercial strain were grown on the same diet in 6 replicate pens (n = 32 birds/pen). Blood samples (5 mL) were collected from the wing vein of each bird on the day before processing for analyzing hematologic and serologic profiles. At 63 d, the birds were weighed and processed in a commercial inline processing system. Weight of the butterfly fillets, liver, and abdominal fat pad were recorded. Left-side fillets were scored to obtain the degree of white striping for each bird. Representative samples for NORM (n = 24) and SEV (n = 17) categories were selected to compare the hematologic and serologic profiles. The SEV birds had greater (P < 0.05) live, fillet, and liver weights, as well as fillet yield, compared with the NORM birds, but the abdominal fat yield was less (P < 0.05) in SEV birds. The NORM and SEV birds did not show any differences in various hematological parameters, including the differential leukocyte count. Conversely, SEV birds had elevated (P < 0.05) serum levels of creatine kinase, alanine transaminase, aspartate aminotransferase, and lactate dehydrogenase. These results suggest that there is no systemic infectious or inflammatory condition associated with a SEV degree of white striping. The elevated serum enzyme levels confirm the muscle damage associated with the degenerative myopathy in SEV birds.

INTRODUCTION

White striations occurring parallel to the direction of muscle fibers in broiler breast fillets, referred to as white striping, are causing concern among broiler chicken producers because of reduced consumer appeal. Depending on the severity of the condition, broiler breast fillets can be categorized as no striping or normal (NORM), moderate (MOD), or severe (SEV; Kuttappan et al., 2012b). The NORM fillets do not show any distinct white lines, whereas there are white lines of <1 mm and >1 mm thick in MOD and SEV fillets, respectively. Furthermore, the higher degrees of white striping are associated with heavier birds (Bauermeister et al., 2009; Kuttappan et al., 2013a) or birds with increased growth rate (Kuttappan et al., 2012a). This suggests that the increased growth rate of poultry, accompanied with the selection for greater growth rates and grow-outs of broilers in a short period of time, could produce a greater incidence of the condition in the meat market. Recently, Kuttappan et al. (2012b) reported that visual acceptance of broiler breast fillets can be significantly reduced due to the occurrence of MOD and SEV degree of white striping. Because visual appearance is a major attribute contributing to the purchase of raw breast meat, the higher incidence of white striping could result in economic loss for the producer. Though the condition is present before processing, it is only visible after processing when breast meat is exposed. To date, few studies are being conducted on systemic changes occurring in live birds with this condition. The knowledge about the systemic changes may help us to get valuable information about the etiology of tissue changes associated with the condition.

Kuttappan et al. (2013b) evaluated the histology of the condition and reported that the higher degrees of white striping are associated with damage of muscle fibers. According to Valentine and McGavin (2012), one of the reasons for the muscle damage could be an infectious or inflammatory condition associated with a disease condition affecting the muscle tissue. Because white striping is a newly reported condition, there are no reports of any associated pathogen so far. However, this possibility should not be overlooked. Hematology is the common clinical tool used for the diagnosis of various disease conditions. There could be differences in the peripheral blood profile, mainly in total leukocyte count and leukocyte differential count, during conditions such as infection (bacterial, viral, or fungal), inflammation, or stress (Mitchell and Johns, 2008; Doneley and Doneley, 2010; Huff et al., 2010). In chickens, an inflammatory or infectious condition could cause a pronounced increase in heterophil count, which could even result in the reversal of the normal lymphocyte dominance (Latimer and Bienzle, 2010). Also, the damage occurring in the muscle tissue could be reflected in plasma or serum biochemical profiles. The condition could disrupt the integrity of the sarcolemma resulting in the leaking of various enzymes such as creatine kinase (CK), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) into the plasma or serum (Hochleithner, 1994; Hoffman and Solter, 2008).

In addition, white striping is histologically characterized by localized lipidosis associated with necrotic myofibers (Kuttappan et al., 2013b), and proximate analysis revealed a greater amount of fat with differences in the fatty acid profile of SEV samples when compared with NORM (Kuttappan et al., 2012a). Avian adipocytes contribute little to de novo lipogenesis (Griffin et al., 1992). Therefore, increased fat deposition in birds could be due to either increased synthesis and secretion from liver or increased breakdown, uptake, and storage in adipocytes (Hermier, 1997). The increased lipogenesis in chickens could be associated with a greater ratio of liver to live weight and differences in fatty acid profiles (Saadoun and Leclercq, 1987). Furthermore, the increased lipogenesis in liver could be associated with enhanced secretion of very low density lipoprotein, which increases the amount of circulating triglycerides (TG) in birds (Hermier, 1997). Therefore, a detailed study on liver fatty acid profile and serum biochemistry will aid in understanding the source of increased intramuscular fat in SEV birds. Based on all the above observations, it can be hypothesized that the occurrence of white striping could be associated with systemic changes that are manifested as variations in blood profile. A comparison of the liver and breast meat fatty acid profiles could provide supporting evidence for the above systemic changes. Thus, the objective of the study was to compare the hematologic and serologic indices as well as the liver and breast muscle fatty acid profiles of birds with a NORM and SEV degree of white striping.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Management of Birds

All the procedures involving the birds used in the present experiment were approved by the University of Arkansas Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. In this study, day-old male chicks (n = 192) of a commercial strain were grown on the same diet treatment, which met or exceeded the NRC (1994) recommendations. There were 6 replicate pens (32 birds/pen), and the birds were provided with starter (0 to 14 d), grower (14 to 28 d), and finisher (28 to 63 d) diets. The birds had ad libitum access to feed and water throughout the period of study. At 63 d, 25 birds were randomly selected from each pen, weighed, and processed under standard conditions of University of Arkansas Poultry Processing Pilot Plant (Mehaffey et al., 2006). Butterfly fillet, liver, and abdominal fat pad weights were recorded. The left-side fillet from each bird was visually scored to determine the degree of white striping (Kuttappan et al., 2012b). Briefly, fillets with apparently no white striation were considered as no striping, or NORM samples, whereas those with striations were considered as MOD (mostly <1-mm-thick striations) or SEV (mostly >1-mm-thick striations). The incidence of NORM, MOD, and SEV degrees of white striping in the present study were 16.67, 71.53, and 11.81%, respectively. Birds showing only a NORM (n = 24) and SEV (n = 17) degree of white striping were considered for the present comparative study. Meat (from the ventral or skin side region of the cranial part of left side fillets) and liver samples were collected from the birds with NORM (n = 5) and SEV (n = 5) degrees of white striping, snap frozen within 2 h postmortem, and kept under –80°C until fatty acid analysis.

Blood and Serum Analysis

Nonfasting blood samples (5 mL) were collected from the birds by venipuncture (wing vein) on the morning of 62 d (day before processing). The samples were collected in glass tubes without and with anticoagulant (EDTA-coated tubes). The hematologic profile of the whole blood samples were estimated using the Cell-Dyn 3500 blood analysis system (Abbott Diagnostics, Abbott Park, IL), which was standardized for chicken blood (Balog et al., 2000, 2003) by correlating the machine counts with differential white blood cell (WBC) counts on slides. The analysis uses electronic impedance and laser-light scattering to estimate total red blood cell (RBC) count, hemoglobin concentration (HGB), hematocrit (HCT), mean cell volume (MCV), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), red cell distribution width, total WBC or leukocyte count, and the percentage of heterophils (HET), lymphocytes (LYM), monocytes (MONO), eosinophils (EOS), and basophils (BASO). Hematologic parameters for all the samples were estimated within 4 h of collection. Blood collected for serological tests was held at room temperature for 2 to 3 h, centrifuged (2,000 × g for 10 min at 4°C), and the resultant serum was stored at −20°C until analyzed. Later, all the serum samples were thawed and clinical chemistry was analyzed at the same time. An Express Plus automated clinical chemistry analyzer (Ciba-Corning Diagnostics Corp., Medfield, MA) was used to estimate the serum enzyme activity of ALT, alkaline phosphatase (AP), AST, CK, γ-glutamyl transferase (GGT), LDH, and levels of total protein, albumin, glucose, TG, cholesterol, uric acid, blood urea nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. The system was initially standardized for poultry serum (Balog et al., 2000, 2003; Huff et al., 2008).

Fatty Acid Analysis

Meat and liver samples (n = 5 each for NORM and SEV) were randomly selected for fatty acid analysis. The samples were freeze-dried and pulverized before the analysis, and fatty acid profile was estimated with the procedure described by Apple et al. (2009), with modifications as explained by Kuttappan et al. (2012a). Total fatty acid and individual fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) contents were reported in units of milligrams of FAME per gram of dry sample and FAME weight percentages, respectively.

Statistical Analysis

The present study used birds from the same strain, sex, age, and dietary treatment to avoid any confounding effect from these factors. Each bird was considered as an individual experimental unit. All the data were analyzed using the GLM procedure of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) with the degree of white striping as the main effect. The least squares means were separated using Student’s t-test or Tukey’s HSD test at a significance of P < 0.05.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The SEV birds had heavier (P < 0.05) live and fillet weights and greater (P < 0.05) fillet yield compared with NORM (Table 1). This was in accordance with the findings from several previous studies which reported that the higher degrees of white striping were associated with heavier birds (Bauermeister et al., 2009; Kuttappan et al., 2012a, 2013a). In addition, the SEV birds had greater (P < 0.05) liver weight but no difference (P > 0.05) in liver yield (Table 1). Presumably, the increased liver weight in SEV birds is proportional to the increased size, or live weight of the bird, which was not observed in liver yield. The NORM birds had greater (P < 0.05) abdominal fat yields than SEV birds, but there was no difference in the weight of the abdominal fat pad between the 2 groups. A negative genetic correlation has been reported between abdominal fat and BW (Leenstra et al., 1986) or breast meat yield (Cahaner et al., 1986; Le Bihan-Duval et al., 1998; Zerehdaran et al., 2004). This could be why the SEV birds, which had greater (P < 0.05) live weights and fillet yields, had a lower (P < 0.05) abdominal fat yield (Table 1).

Comparison of carcass yield (mean ± SE) of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets

Table 1
Comparison of carcass yield (mean ± SE) of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets
Attribute NORM (n = 24) SEV (n = 17) 
Weight (g)     
 Live bird 4,070.17b ± 77.36 4,736.88a ± 91.91 
 Fillet 754.46b ± 24.35 1,076.71a ± 28.93 
 Liver 52.46b ± 1.64 59.00a ± 2.01 
 Abdominal fat pad 50.04a ± 3.32 46.35a ± 3.94 
Yield (% of live weight)     
 Fillet 18.47b ± 0.34 22.70a ± 0.40 
 Liver 1.29a ± 0.03 1.25a ± 0.04 
 Abdominal fat pad 1.21a ± 0.07 0.98b ± 0.08 
Attribute NORM (n = 24) SEV (n = 17) 
Weight (g)     
 Live bird 4,070.17b ± 77.36 4,736.88a ± 91.91 
 Fillet 754.46b ± 24.35 1,076.71a ± 28.93 
 Liver 52.46b ± 1.64 59.00a ± 2.01 
 Abdominal fat pad 50.04a ± 3.32 46.35a ± 3.94 
Yield (% of live weight)     
 Fillet 18.47b ± 0.34 22.70a ± 0.40 
 Liver 1.29a ± 0.03 1.25a ± 0.04 
 Abdominal fat pad 1.21a ± 0.07 0.98b ± 0.08 

a,bMeans in each row with different superscripts are significantly different (P < 0.05).

Blood from NORM and SEV birds did not reveal any differences (P > 0.05) in total RBC, WBC, HCT, HGB, MCV, MCH, MCHC, RDW, and percentages of HET, LYM, MONO, EOS, and BASO (Table 2). In general, an increase in WBC count in the peripheral blood is often observed in stress, inflammatory conditions due to generalized or localized infections, trauma, toxicities, neoplasms, and so on, whereas a decrease could be an indication of chronic inflammation or infections (Campbell, 1994; Doneley and Doneley, 2010). However, changes in specific cell population may be seen in various conditions. An increase in HET will be observed in bacteria, fungal and parasitic infections, inflammation, stress, toxicities, traumatic conditions, and leukemia (Campbell, 1994; Mitchell and Johns, 2008). Certain infectious conditions, such as overwhelming bacterial infection or viral diseases of hemapoietic cells, could cause a reduction in HET count (Latimer and Bienzle, 2010). An increase in LYM is mainly associated with antigenic stimulation from chronic infections or inflammatory conditions that could be associated with certain viral infections (Mitchell and Johns, 2008; Doneley and Doneley, 2010), and a reduction in LYM in case of stress conditions (Huff et al., 2010; Latimer and Bienzle, 2010). Depending upon various conditions, a shift in the number of HET or LYM can result in a change in the HET:LYM ratio as well. Increased number of MONO, BASO, and EOS can also be seen in association with various infectious or inflammatory conditions (Latimer and Bienzle, 2010). Meanwhile, there could be a decrease in the HCT, HGB, MCV, and MCH levels in birds when they are exposed to stressors (Borges et al., 2004; Huff et al., 2008). The RBC count, HCT, HGB, MCV, MCHC, and RDW are also used to determine the presence and severity of anemia (Tvedten, 2010). Based on the available literature, the lack of any differences in the various hematologic parameters in the present study indicate that the occurrence of SEV degrees of white striping is not associated with infection, inflammation, or stress, which could produce generalized systemic changes.

Comparison of hematologic profiles (mean ± SE) of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets1

Table 2
Comparison of hematologic profiles (mean ± SE) of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets1
Attribute NORM (n = 24) SEV (n = 17) 
White blood cell count (× 103/µL) 28.04 ± 2.44 24.28 ± 2.90 
Heterophils (HET; %) 36.15 ± 2.79 36.20 ± 3.31 
Lymphocytes (LYM; %) 52.50 ± 3.49 54.85 ± 4.14 
HET:LYM 0.95 ± 0.13 0.75 ± 0.16 
Monocytes (%) 10.51 ± 0.90 8.54 ± 1.07 
Eosinophils (%) 0.03 ± 0.01 0.03 ± 0.01 
Basophils (%) 0.81 ± 0.16 0.36 ± 0.19 
Red blood cell count (× 106/µL) 2.69 ± 0.04 2.67 ± 0.05 
Hematocrit (%) 35.88 ± 0.51 35.82 ± 0.61 
Hemoglobin (g/dL) 8.05 ± 0.09 8.16 ± 0.11 
Mean cell volume (fL) 133.54 ± 0.74 133.41 ± 0.88 
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (pg) 30.00 ± 0.34 30.71 ± 0.40 
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (g/dL) 24.55 ± 1.61 22.84 ± 1.91 
Red cell distribution width (%) 10.99 ± 0.30 10.69 ± 0.36 
Attribute NORM (n = 24) SEV (n = 17) 
White blood cell count (× 103/µL) 28.04 ± 2.44 24.28 ± 2.90 
Heterophils (HET; %) 36.15 ± 2.79 36.20 ± 3.31 
Lymphocytes (LYM; %) 52.50 ± 3.49 54.85 ± 4.14 
HET:LYM 0.95 ± 0.13 0.75 ± 0.16 
Monocytes (%) 10.51 ± 0.90 8.54 ± 1.07 
Eosinophils (%) 0.03 ± 0.01 0.03 ± 0.01 
Basophils (%) 0.81 ± 0.16 0.36 ± 0.19 
Red blood cell count (× 106/µL) 2.69 ± 0.04 2.67 ± 0.05 
Hematocrit (%) 35.88 ± 0.51 35.82 ± 0.61 
Hemoglobin (g/dL) 8.05 ± 0.09 8.16 ± 0.11 
Mean cell volume (fL) 133.54 ± 0.74 133.41 ± 0.88 
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (pg) 30.00 ± 0.34 30.71 ± 0.40 
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (g/dL) 24.55 ± 1.61 22.84 ± 1.91 
Red cell distribution width (%) 10.99 ± 0.30 10.69 ± 0.36 

1Means in each row were not significantly different (P > 0.05).

Serum enzyme levels were estimated to assess tissue damages associated with white striping. There was an increase (P < 0.05) in the serum levels of ALT, AST, CK, and LDH in SEV birds when compared with the NORM (Table 3). Increased levels of ALT, AST, and LDH levels are associated with liver or muscle damage (Hochleithner, 1994; Lumeij, 2008). Creatine kinase is an enzyme that is more specific for skeletal muscle and is often used to distinguish whether increased concentrations of AST and ALT are from either liver or muscle damage (Hoffman and Solter, 2008). Meanwhile, GGT is an indicator of hepatocellular and renal damage, which is manifested as increased levels in serum or plasma and urine, respectively (Hochleithner, 1994; Hoffman and Solter, 2008). Moreover, there was no difference (P > 0.05) in serum GGT levels in NORM and SEV birds (Table 3). These data suggest that the occurrence of a SEV degree of white striping is associated with muscle damage and not with liver abnormalities. This is consistent with the chronic ongoing degeneration of muscle fibers observed in histological samples prepared from breast fillets of SEV birds also having greater BW compared with NORM (Kuttappan et al., 2013a,b). Similarly, the incidence of increased muscle damage was reported in fast-growing turkeys as well (Sosnicki et al., 1989, 1991). Interestingly, the SEV birds showed lower (P < 0.05) serum levels of AP compared with NORM birds (Table 3). Alkaline phosphatase is mainly produced by intestinal mucosa, liver, bone, kidney, and placenta among which the intestinal AP does not contribute much to AP serum levels (Hoffman and Solter, 2008). According to Ahmed et al. (1975), the elevation of plasma AP in birds is seldom connected to liver damage (Lumeij, 2008). Szabó et al. (2005) reported that reduced activity of AP may be an indication of slowdown of bone growth. Higher serum levels of AP are observed when there is increased osteoblastic activity, involving formation and mineralization of bone associated with increased skeletal growth (Lumeij, 2008). Even though, no specific conclusions could be made from the pattern of AP seen in the present study, it might have an association with the increased growth rate in SEV birds, which needs further investigations. In addition to similar GGT serum levels, there were no differences in the serum levels of cholesterol and TG, which again suggests similar hepatic activity in the 2 groups (Hochleithner, 1994; Hermier, 1997). There were no differences in the levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, phosphorus, and uric acid (Table 3), suggesting a lack of differences in renal function between NORM and SEV birds (Hochleithner, 1994). Similarly, the 2 groups did not show any disparity in serum levels of albumin, calcium, glucose, total protein, magnesium, and iron (Table 3) indicating a difference in the absorption or metabolism of these substances. Nonetheless, the pattern of enzyme levels in SEV birds could be similar to other conditions such as stress, increased muscle growth or activity, intramuscular injections, injuries (such as broken wings), or other disease conditions causing muscle damage (Mills et al., 1998; Szabó et al., 2005; MacRae et al., 2006; Hoffman and Solter, 2008; Huff et al., 2008; Huff et al., 2010). So, further comparative studies involving the type and the extent in elevation of various enzyme levels are needed to confirm the potential of the tool to distinguish white striping from other similar conditions in live birds.

Serological profile of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets

Table 3
Serological profile of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets
Attribute NORM
(n = 24) 
SEV
(n = 17) 
Pooled
SE 
P-value 
Enzyme (U/L)         
 Alanine aminotransferase 2.25 4.58 0.50 <0.01 
 Alkaline phosphatase 2,169.17 1,469.41 193.24 0.01 
 Asparate aminotransferase 607.75 1,066.71 123.90 0.01 
 Creatine kinase 51,350.00 123,973.53 15,707.03 <0.01 
 Gamma glutamyl transferase 25.67 25.65 2.12 0.99 
 Lactate dehydrogenase 3,101.67 7,024.71 1,002.99 0.01 
Metabolites and electrolytes         
 Albumin (g/dL) 1.45 1.44 0.03 0.76 
 Blood urea nitrogen (mg/dL) 0.43 0.41 0.08 0.82 
 Calcium (mg/dL) 10.05 10.02 0.17 0.92 
 Cholesterol (mg/dL) 117.46 118.18 4.14 0.90 
 Creatinine (mg/dL) 0.20 0.22 0.01 0.16 
 Glucose (mg/dL) 205.17 203.24 2.41 0.54 
 Magnesium (mEq/L) 1.75 1.69 0.07 0.46 
 Phosphorus (mg/dL) 4.14 4.19 0.10 0.68 
 Iron (µg/dL) 200.58 199.18 7.62 0.89 
 Total protein (g/dL) 3.34 3.27 0.09 0.56 
 Triglycerides (mg/dL) 57.79 48.53 5.77 0.23 
 Uric acid (mg/dL) 6.69 5.99 0.43 0.22 
Attribute NORM
(n = 24) 
SEV
(n = 17) 
Pooled
SE 
P-value 
Enzyme (U/L)         
 Alanine aminotransferase 2.25 4.58 0.50 <0.01 
 Alkaline phosphatase 2,169.17 1,469.41 193.24 0.01 
 Asparate aminotransferase 607.75 1,066.71 123.90 0.01 
 Creatine kinase 51,350.00 123,973.53 15,707.03 <0.01 
 Gamma glutamyl transferase 25.67 25.65 2.12 0.99 
 Lactate dehydrogenase 3,101.67 7,024.71 1,002.99 0.01 
Metabolites and electrolytes         
 Albumin (g/dL) 1.45 1.44 0.03 0.76 
 Blood urea nitrogen (mg/dL) 0.43 0.41 0.08 0.82 
 Calcium (mg/dL) 10.05 10.02 0.17 0.92 
 Cholesterol (mg/dL) 117.46 118.18 4.14 0.90 
 Creatinine (mg/dL) 0.20 0.22 0.01 0.16 
 Glucose (mg/dL) 205.17 203.24 2.41 0.54 
 Magnesium (mEq/L) 1.75 1.69 0.07 0.46 
 Phosphorus (mg/dL) 4.14 4.19 0.10 0.68 
 Iron (µg/dL) 200.58 199.18 7.62 0.89 
 Total protein (g/dL) 3.34 3.27 0.09 0.56 
 Triglycerides (mg/dL) 57.79 48.53 5.77 0.23 
 Uric acid (mg/dL) 6.69 5.99 0.43 0.22 

Fatty acid content of the liver and breast muscle sample were determined to compare it with the serum biochemistry and hypothesize the reasons for the changes associated with white striping. The SEV samples showed a higher (P < 0.05) amount of total fatty acids (Figure 1) in breast meat when compared with NORM. The SEV breast fillets had a lower (P < 0.05) proportion of saturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, but a greater (P < 0.05) percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids than the NORM breast fillets (Table 4). Interestingly, the magnitude of difference in the total fatty acid content in NORM and SEV breast fillets observed in the present study was greater than 3 times that reported by Kuttappan et al. (2012a), although the overall trend seen in the fatty acid profiles of NORM and SEV breast fillets was quite similar. However, there were differences with respect to the absolute values of individual fatty acids that could be due to the difference in the strain, age, and feed used between the 2 studies (Wood and Enser, 1997; Nürnberg et al., 1998; Poureslami et al., 2010). The total fatty acid contents in liver and breast meat were not different (P > 0.05) in SEV birds, but NORM breast meat had less (P < 0.05) total fatty acid content than that of the NORM liver (Figure 1). In addition, total fatty acid, saturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid, and polyunsaturated fatty acid contents of liver samples from both NORM and SEV did not differ (P > 0.05). Nevertheless, the levels of palmitic acid and docosahexanoic were greater (P < 0.05) in the liver of NORM and SEV, respectively (Table 4). One the other hand, the fillets of NORM and SEV birds showed differences in most of the individual fatty acid contents except for lauric, palmitic, arachidic, gadoleic acid, γ-linolenic, dihomo-γ-linolenic, and eicosapentaenoic acid levels (Table 4). The results from the serological and fatty acid analyses showed that there is no difference in the levels of circulating serum triglycerides and cholesterol as well as liver fatty acid profiles of NORM and SEV birds. This implies that the increased intramuscular fat seen in SEV birds could not be due to an increased de novo lipogenesis or increased circulating lipids. Plausibly, the chronic and ongoing degeneration of muscle fibers in SEV white striping (Kuttappan et al., 2013a,b) could have resulted in differentiation of muscle stem cells to adipocytes (Hosoyama et al., 2009; Joe et al., 2010; Natarajan et al., 2010) leading to hyperplasia of adipocytes in SEV breast fillets and increased uptake as well as storage of circulating triglycerides as intramuscular fat.

Figure 1

Fatty acid content in liver (n = 5) and breast (n = 5) muscle samples collected from broilers exhibiting normal or severe degree of white striping in breast fillets. NORM = normal (no white striping); SEV = severe degree of white striping. a,bMeans with different letters are significantly different (P < 0.05).

Figure 1

Fatty acid content in liver (n = 5) and breast (n = 5) muscle samples collected from broilers exhibiting normal or severe degree of white striping in breast fillets. NORM = normal (no white striping); SEV = severe degree of white striping. a,bMeans with different letters are significantly different (P < 0.05).

Liver and breast muscle fatty acid profiles of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets

Table 4
Liver and breast muscle fatty acid profiles of broilers exhibiting a normal (NORM) or severe (SEV) degree of white striping in breast fillets
Item1 Liver  Muscle 
NORM
(n = 5) 
SEV
(n = 5) 
Pooled
SE 
P-value NORM
(n = 5) 
SEV
(n = 5) 
Pooled
SE 
P-value 
SFA 39.38 38.48 0.42 0.15   33.09 31.58 0.41 <0.01 
Lauric acid (12:0)   0.01 <0.01 0.01 
Myristic acid (14:0) 0.29 0.26 0.02 0.23   0.55 0.66 0.02 <0.01 
Pentadecanoic acid (15:0) 0.05 0.06 0.01 0.23   0.01 0.11 0.01 <0.01 
Palmitic acid (16:0) 20.18 18.91 0.21 <0.01   23.34 22.5 0.36 0.07 
Heptadecanoic acid (17:0) 0.22 0.23 0.01 0.44   0.12 0.2 0.02 <0.01 
Stearic acid (18:0) 18.54 18.93 0.52 0.60   9.04 8.03 0.19 <0.01 
Arachidic acid (20:0) 0.09 0.09 <0.01 0.11   0.03 0.07 0.02 0.09 
MUFA 21.01 20.15 1.07 0.58   33.69 37.33 0.50 <0.01 
Myristoleic acid (14:1) 0.04 0.02 0.01 0.28   0.01 0.14 0.01 <0.01 
Palmitoleic acid (16:1c1.76 1.63 0.17 0.59   3.46 4.07 0.13 <0.01 
Palmitelaidic acid (16:1t0.01 0.01 0.01 0.85   0.03 0.01 <0.01 
Oleic acid (18:1 c9) 16.98 16.3 0.87 0.59   26.55 29.9 0.45 <0.01 
Summation of unseparable 18:1t acids 0.3 0.3 0.01 0.82   0.25 0.37 0.02 <0.01 
Vaccenic acid (18:1 c11) 1.69 1.65 0.04 0.54   3.19 2.55 0.08 <0.01 
Gadoleic acid (20: c1) 0.24 0.23 0.01 0.18   0.23 0.27 0.02 0.03 
PUFA 35.45 37.06 0.66 0.10   30.46 28.54 0.37 <0.01 
Linoleic acid (18:2n-6) 19.38 19.97 0.32 0.20   21.63 22.86 0.35 <0.01 
CLA 9-c, 11-c (18:2 c9c11) 0.02 0.01 0.12   0.03 0.01 <0.01 
CLA 9-c, 11-t (18:2 c9t11) 0.01 <0.01 0.15   0.03 0.01 <0.01 
α-Linolenic acid ME (18:3n-3) 0.37 0.41 0.02 0.20   0.64 0.87 0.02 <0.01 
γ-Linolenic acid ME (18:3n-6) 0.31 0.29 0.01 0.49   0.19 0.27 0.03 0.04 
Eicosadienoic acid (20:2n-6) 0.44 0.45 0.02 0.85   0.45 0.34 0.02 <0.01 
Eicosatrienoic acid (20:3n-3) 0.05 0.06 <0.01 0.09   
Dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (20:3n-6) 1.12 0.9 0.08 0.06   0.66 0.49 0.07 0.05 
Arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) 11.97 13 0.49 0.15   5.77 3.11 0.31 <0.01 
Eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) 0.29 0.26 0.02 0.29   0.08 0.09 0.02 0.86 
Docosapentaenoic acid (22:5n-3) 0.57 0.61 0.03 0.48   0.62 0.3 0.03 <0.01 
Docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3) 0.92 1.10 0.05 0.01   0.41 0.17 0.03 <0.01 
Other fatty acid peaks 4.17 4.31 0.16 0.53   2.76 2.55 0.11 0.13 
Item1 Liver  Muscle 
NORM
(n = 5) 
SEV
(n = 5) 
Pooled
SE 
P-value NORM
(n = 5) 
SEV
(n = 5) 
Pooled
SE 
P-value 
SFA 39.38 38.48 0.42 0.15   33.09 31.58 0.41 <0.01 
Lauric acid (12:0)   0.01 <0.01 0.01 
Myristic acid (14:0) 0.29 0.26 0.02 0.23   0.55 0.66 0.02 <0.01 
Pentadecanoic acid (15:0) 0.05 0.06 0.01 0.23   0.01 0.11 0.01 <0.01 
Palmitic acid (16:0) 20.18 18.91 0.21 <0.01   23.34 22.5 0.36 0.07 
Heptadecanoic acid (17:0) 0.22 0.23 0.01 0.44   0.12 0.2 0.02 <0.01 
Stearic acid (18:0) 18.54 18.93 0.52 0.60   9.04 8.03 0.19 <0.01 
Arachidic acid (20:0) 0.09 0.09 <0.01 0.11   0.03 0.07 0.02 0.09 
MUFA 21.01 20.15 1.07 0.58   33.69 37.33 0.50 <0.01 
Myristoleic acid (14:1) 0.04 0.02 0.01 0.28   0.01 0.14 0.01 <0.01 
Palmitoleic acid (16:1c1.76 1.63 0.17 0.59   3.46 4.07 0.13 <0.01 
Palmitelaidic acid (16:1t0.01 0.01 0.01 0.85   0.03 0.01 <0.01 
Oleic acid (18:1 c9) 16.98 16.3 0.87 0.59   26.55 29.9 0.45 <0.01 
Summation of unseparable 18:1t acids 0.3 0.3 0.01 0.82   0.25 0.37 0.02 <0.01 
Vaccenic acid (18:1 c11) 1.69 1.65 0.04 0.54   3.19 2.55 0.08 <0.01 
Gadoleic acid (20: c1) 0.24 0.23 0.01 0.18   0.23 0.27 0.02 0.03 
PUFA 35.45 37.06 0.66 0.10   30.46 28.54 0.37 <0.01 
Linoleic acid (18:2n-6) 19.38 19.97 0.32 0.20   21.63 22.86 0.35 <0.01 
CLA 9-c, 11-c (18:2 c9c11) 0.02 0.01 0.12   0.03 0.01 <0.01 
CLA 9-c, 11-t (18:2 c9t11) 0.01 <0.01 0.15   0.03 0.01 <0.01 
α-Linolenic acid ME (18:3n-3) 0.37 0.41 0.02 0.20   0.64 0.87 0.02 <0.01 
γ-Linolenic acid ME (18:3n-6) 0.31 0.29 0.01 0.49   0.19 0.27 0.03 0.04 
Eicosadienoic acid (20:2n-6) 0.44 0.45 0.02 0.85   0.45 0.34 0.02 <0.01 
Eicosatrienoic acid (20:3n-3) 0.05 0.06 <0.01 0.09   
Dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (20:3n-6) 1.12 0.9 0.08 0.06   0.66 0.49 0.07 0.05 
Arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) 11.97 13 0.49 0.15   5.77 3.11 0.31 <0.01 
Eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) 0.29 0.26 0.02 0.29   0.08 0.09 0.02 0.86 
Docosapentaenoic acid (22:5n-3) 0.57 0.61 0.03 0.48   0.62 0.3 0.03 <0.01 
Docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3) 0.92 1.10 0.05 0.01   0.41 0.17 0.03 <0.01 
Other fatty acid peaks 4.17 4.31 0.16 0.53   2.76 2.55 0.11 0.13 

1SFA = saturated fatty acid; MUFA = monounsaturated fatty acid; PUFA = polyunsaturated fatty acid; CLA = conjugated linoleic acid. c = cis; t = trans.

In conclusion, the SEV degree of white striping is related to heavier birds as already reported by previous studies. The occurrence of the condition could be associated with decreased abdominal fat yield, but not liver yield. The hematologic profile suggested that SEV white striping was not associated with any infectious, inflammatory, or stress condition. As a result of the muscle damage in SEV breast fillets, there was an increase in serum levels of CK, ALT, AST, and LDH. Birds with SEV degree of white striping may have increased intramuscular fat deposition, and the fat deposited has a different fatty acid profile compared with NORM. However, there is no difference in liver fat content between the NORM and SEV birds. Overall, liver yield (as a percentage of live weight), serologic profile, total fatty acid content, and the fatty acid profiles of liver and breast meat from NORM and SEV birds suggest that the increased intramuscular fat deposited in SEV breast fillet could not be a result of increased de novo lipogenesis. Presumably, an adipocytic hyperplasia, originating from the ongoing muscle damage, has resulted in enhanced breakdown, uptake, and storage of circulating TG in SEV breast fillets.

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