Difference in adaptability responses to stress has been observed amongst bird species, strains, and individuals. Components of the HPA axis, one of the internal systems involved in homeostasis re-establishment following stress, could play a role in this variability of responses. The aim of the present study was 1) to identify genes involved in the regulation of adrenal activity following ACTH stimulation and 2) to examine adrenal genes differentially expressed in individuals with high and low plasma corticosterone response following ACTH treatment.
Analysis with 21 K poultry oligo microarrays indicated that ACTH treatment affected the expression of 134 genes. Several transcripts assigned to genes involved in the adrenal ACTH signaling pathway and steroidogenic enzymes were identified as differentially expressed by ACTH treatment. Real-time PCR on 18 selected genes confirmed changes in transcript levels of 11 genes, including MC2R, CREM, Cry, Bmal1, Sqle, Prax1, and StAR. Only 4 genes revealed to be differentially expressed between higher and lower adrenal responders to ACTH treatment.
The results from the present study reveal putative candidate genes; their role in regulation of adrenal functions and adaptability to stress should be further investigated.