Effect of dietary daidzein on egg production, shell quality, and gene expression of ER-alpha, GH-R, and IGF-IR in shell glands of laying hens.J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Aug 22; 55(17):6997-7001.JA
Our previous studies demonstrated that dietary daidzein improves egg production in ducks during the late period of the laying cycle. The present study was aimed to investigate the effect of daidzein in laying hens, with more focus on eggshell quality. The expression of ER-alpha, GH-R, and IGF-IR mRNA in shell glands was determined to identify the target genes of daidzein action and to reveal the relationship between shell quality and profiles of gene expression in shell glands of laying hens. 1000 ISA hens, at 445 days of age, were allotted at random to two groups and given the basal diet with or without 10 mg of daidzein per kg diet for 9 weeks. Daidzein supplement significantly increased the egg laying rate and the feed conversion ratio. The eggshell thickness increased, while the percentage of cracked eggs decreased in daidzein-treated hens. Serum E2 and phosphate concentrations were not altered, but the level of serum Ca2+ and the tibia bone mineral density were significantly increased in the daidzein-treated group compared with their control counterparts. In parallel with the significant increase of oviduct weight, significant down-regulation of GH-R and IGF-IR mRNA and a trend of decrease in ERalpha mRNA expression in shell glands were observed in daidzein-treated hens. The results indicate that dietary daidzein improves egg laying performance and eggshell quality during the late (postpeak) laying stage of hens, which is associated with modulations in gene expression in the shell gland.