Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Thaxton, Paul, J.

Committee Member

Vizzier-Thaxton, Yvonne

Committee Member

McDaniel, Chris

Committee Member

Pinchuk, Lesya

Committee Member

Ryan, Peter

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Pharr, Todd

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Animal Physiology (Program)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Poultry Science


Initial experiments evaluated the impact of hematocrit on a bird’s ability to adapt to stress and what physiological mechanisms occurred to maintain oxygen carrying capacity (OCC). A final experiment was conducted to obtain proteomic evaluation of protein expression in monocytes of unstressed broilers. In initial experiments, ACTH treatment was applied to hematocrit separated broilers. Experiments evaluated effects of ACTH on broilers with low (19 to 22%, Experiment 1; 18-21%, Experiment 3), high (25 to 28%, Experiment 1; 24 to 27%, Experiment 3) or non-selected hematocrit levels (Experiment 2 and 3). After 4 d of ACTH, all treated birds had significantly increased (P < 0.1) pCO2, HCO3-, and corticosterone levels, indicating as stress raises pCO2, HCO3- must rise to maintain acid base balance. Birds not selected for hematocrit had significant drops in pO2 when given ACTH. Broilers compensate for low OCC through release of red blood cells from storage sites, indicated by decreases in organ hemoglobin and increases in hematocrit and blood hemoglobin when birds are given ACTH. Accelerated red blood cell formation does not appear to occur, because erythropoietin decreases following administration of ACTH to non-selected birds. ACTH induced stress, increased hemoglobin and hematocrit only in birds with low or non-selected hematocrit, suggesting high hematocrit birds prior to stress have an adaptive advantage during stress. Higher hematocrit prior to stress apparently provides ample OCC during stress. Unselected birds appear to require initiation of an inflammatory response to adapt to stress which can be noted by increases in total white blood cell count, monocytes, and heterophils and decreases in lymphocytes. High hematocrit birds appear less susceptible to stress effects by maintaining leukocytes at a constant level, while in non-selected birds lymphocyte percents drop. Proteomics was conducted on avian monocytes to reveal proteins related to immune functions, 3229 proteins were identified, with 46 involved in immune functions of professional antigen presenting cells. This protein data provides a means of comparing monocytes of stressed and unstressed animals in the future. In conclusion, evaluated hematocrit is advantageous in adaptation to stress through maintenance of high OCC, acid base balance and immune cells.



hemoglobin||oxygen carrying capacity||Red blood cells||Corticosterone||ACTH