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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Melatonin alleviates ovarian function damage and oxidative stress induced by dexamethasone in the laying hens through FOXO1 signaling pathway

Bai, Kang; Hao, Erying; Huang, Chen-xuan; Yue, Qiao-xian; Wang, De-He; Shi, Lei; Chen, Yi-fan; Chen, Hui; Huang, Ren-lu


Oxidative stress can trigger follicular atresia, and decrease follicles quantity in each develop-ment stage, thereby alleviating reproductive activity. The induction of oxidative stress in chickens through intraperitoneal injection of dexamethasone is a reliable and stable method. Melatonin has been shown to miti-gate oxidative stress in this model, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether melatonin can recover aberrant antioxidant status induced by dexamethasone and the specific mechanism behind melatonin-dependent protec-tion. A total of 150 healthy 40-wk-old Dawu Jinfeng lay-ing hens with similar body weights and laying rates were randomly divided into three groups, with five replicates per group and 10 hens per replicate. The hens in the con-trol group (NS) received intraperitoneal injections of normal saline for 30 d, the dexamethasone group (Dex +NS) received 20 mg/kg dose of dexamethasone for the first 15 d, followed by the 15 d of normal saline treat-ment. While in the melatonin group (Dex+Mel), dexa-methasone (20 mg/kg dose) was injected intraperitoneally in the first 15 d, and melatonin (20 mg/kg/d) was injected in the last 15 d. The results showed that dexamethasone treatment significantly enhanced oxidative stress (P < 0.05), while melatonin not only inhibited the oxidative stress but also notably enhanced the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase activity (CAT), glutathione peroxi-dase (GSH-Px), and antioxidant genes CAT, superox-ide dismutase 1 (SOD1), glutathione peroxidase 3 (GPX3), and recombinant peroxiredoxin 3 (PRDX3) expression (P < 0.05). Melatonin treatment also markedly reduced 8-hydroxy deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), malondialdehyde (MDA), and reactive oxy-gen species (ROS) levels (P < 0.05) and apoptotic genes Caspase-3, Bim, and Bax in the follicle. In the Dex+Mel group, the Bcl-2 and SOD1 protein levels were also increased (P < 0.05). Melatonin inhibited the forkhead Box Protein O1 (FOXO1) gene and its protein expres-sion (P < 0.05). In general, this investigation revealed that melatonin might decrease oxidative stress and ROS by enhancing antioxidant enzymes and genes, activating the antiapoptotic genes, and inhibiting the FOXO1 pathway in laying hens.


melatonin; oxidative stress; dexamethasone; FOXO1; laying hen

Published in

Poultry Science
2023, Volume: 102, number: 8, article number: 102745
Publisher: ELSEVIER