Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New tool helps researchers bone up on osteoporosis

18.08.2003


Purdue University scientists investigating osteoporosis in laying hens have shown that a noninvasive tool can monitor birds’ bone strength and aid in discovering genetic information about bone disease in chickens.

Lack of calcium in chickens’ food and lack of exercise can leave hens with brittle bones, said Patricia "Scotti" Hester, a professor in Purdue’s Department of Animal Sciences. In addition, eggshell production leaches calcium from hens’ bones. Hester and her research team found they could accurately determine bone mineral density using a technology known as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).

Their study is published in the August issue of the journal Poultry Science and also appears on the publication’s Web site.



"The brittle bone problem has evolved gradually over the past quarter of a century," Hester said. "This is due to generally selecting chickens for increased egg numbers, and smaller bird sizes for improved feed efficiency. Also, little emphasis has been placed on selecting for skeletal integrity."

Skeletal integrity in hens also decreases during management practices used to improve shell quality and lengthen a bird’s production life, Hester said. Previous studies by other researchers have found that osteoporosis accounts for 15 percent to 30 percent of total fatalities in hens.

"If we can find genes associated with osteoporosis, we can use genetic selection to improve skeletal integrity," Hester said. "We hope that this will be a way to reduce the incidence of brittle bones because of the considerable variation in bone mineral density that we’ve found among hens."

Various researchers also are studying other factors that contribute to brittle bones in poultry.

"Osteoporosis in chickens is an animal well-being issue," Hester said. "Breeding, diet and exercise all play a vital role in skeletal integrity of laying hens."

Her team conducted two experiments for this study of skeletal integrity. One experiment assessed bone strength in live white leghorn hens at 36, 46 and 56 weeks old, while the second experiment dealt with 38-, 48- and 58-week-old hens.

In both experiments, a third of the chickens received a low-calcium diet, a third an average diet and a third a high-calcium diet. The scientists showed that more calcium resulted in greater bone mineral density and stronger bones and that the DEXA machine could accurately record those differences.

Results of this study showed that the hens fed a low-calcium diet produced fewer eggs. The eggshells they produced also were significantly thinner and weighed less than the birds fed an average to high amount of calcium.

Though the researchers aren’t specifically seeking answers to human osteoporosis, they may find some.

Evolutionary biology has shown that many of the same or similar genes are found in different plants and animals. So, studying one species often leads to information to help with research in another plant or animals. Chickens already are used for other biomedical studies, including embryo development and birth defects, because of some known gene similarities.

Last year, the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, placed chickens on the high priority list for sequencing of the bird’s genetic makeup. The institute’s program is directed at comparing genomes of plants, animals and humans to determine similarities and differences that make them susceptible or resistant to various diseases and developmental problems.

In the meantime, discovering genetic methods to lessen osteoporosis is of immediate concern to the egg industry.

Before the bone-weakening disease became so widespread in poultry, the approximately 45 million laying hens disposed of annually in the United States were sold to soup manufacturers. But osteoporosis caused so many bone splinters in meat that it couldn’t be used for human consumption. Now most of the soup meat comes from broiler, or meat-type, chickens, rather than egg-laying hens.

"If the skeletal integrity of laying hens can be improved to reduce splintered bones, then perhaps the soup market can be regained at 25 cents or more per chicken," Hester said.

Many farmers now must pay to have the birds hauled away or give them away free, she said. If hens are not processed for meat, then producers need an environmentally safe and economical way to dispose of the birds once their egg-producing days are over.

The estimated U.S. annual economic loss because the egg layers aren’t used for meat products is $18 million, Hester said.

Other researchers involved in the study include: Diane Moody, Purdue assistant professor of animal sciences; graduate students Melissa Schreiweis and Helenice Mazzuco; animals scientists Joseph Orban of Southern University, Shreveport, La.; and Monica Ledur of Embrapa Swine and Poultry Research Center in Concordia, Brazil.



The U.S. Department of Agriculture Scientific Cooperation Research Program, the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program and the State of Indiana Value-Added Grant Fund provided support for this study.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, 765-496-7481, ssteeves@purdue.edu

Sources: Patricia "Scotti" Hester, 765-494-8091, phester@purdue.edu

Susan A. Steeves | Purdue University
Further information:
http://www.ansc.purdue.edu/faculty/heste.htm
http://www.ansc.purdue.edu
http://www.usda.gov/services.html

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA keeps watch over space explosions

16.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

16.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How the gut ‘talks’ to brown fat

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>