The effect of equol injection in ovo on lipid metabolism and hepatic lipogenic gene expression in broilers
This study investigated the effects of in ovo administration of equol (Eq) on post-hatch growth and hepatic lipid metabolism in broiler chickens. Fertilized eggs (146 eggs/group) were injected with 0 µg (control, Con), 20 µg (low dose, L) and 100 µg (high dose, H) Eq in the albumen on the 7th day of incubation. Except a trend increase in the weight of total fat (P = 0.09), Eq had no effect on growth or liver weight in broilers at 49 days of age. Males presented higher liver and BWs and lower total fat and relative liver weights than females (P < 0.01). However, there were no significant effects of Eq or Eq-gender interactions on growth performance or tissues weight (P > 0.05). With respect to lipid parameters in the serum, the results showed that female broilers presented higher triacyglycerol (TG) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations than males, whereas there was no gender difference in serum total cholesterol (TC) or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC) concentration (P > 0.05). Eq administration significantly decreased serum TG and TC but increased HDLC concentrations in serum of broilers at 49 days of age (P < 0.05), whereas there were no interactions between gender and Eq (P > 0.05). To elucidate the mechanism behind the significant changes of serum TG and TC levels, the expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism in the liver was investigated in female chickens using reverse transcription-PCR. Carnitine palmitoyl transferase I (CPTI) messenger RNA (mRNA) was significantly upregulated by 20 and 100 µg Eq (P < 0.05). High-dose Eq significantly decreased fatty acid synthase (FAS) and enhanced cholesterol-7alpha-hydroxylase (CYP7A1) mRNA levels in the liver (P < 0.05). Eq had no significant effects on acetyl-CoA carboxylase, sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c, malic enzyme, low-density lipoprotein receptor or 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase mRNA in the liver (P > 0.05). These results in female broilers suggest that Eq decreased blood TG by upregulating CPTI and downregulating FAS mRNA expression in the liver, and that high serum cholesterol levels stimulated CYP7A1 gene transcription in the liver.