The Etiology of Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome (FLHS)

Dr. Squire's lab continues to investigate the etiology of the Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome (FLHS) that appears sporadically in layer flocks. Up to now their research has concentrated mainly on dietary substances that can result in oxidative damage to body tissues. However, their latest research data suggest that defects in the hen's blood clotting system may be a factor triggering FLHS. Blood clotting generally results in response to some rupture of a blood vessel. The damaged blood vessel releases what is called a tissue factor (TF), which initiates the series of biochemical reactions leading to the formation of a blood clot. Normal and FLHS birds, from a selected strain, were examined for blood clotting responses. The data indicated that blood clotting activity was not reduced in FLHS birds. However, the data indicated that there was a significant difference in the production of thrombin, a significant blood clotting protein, in normal versus FLHS birds. The use of human TF as compared to a chicken TF, exaggerated this difference and thus provides an interesting model for further studies with FLHS plasma. Since FLHS plasma has a higher lipid content than normal chicken plasma, and phospholipid is required as a cofactor in assay procedures, future research will look at differences in phospholipid concentration in plasma as a contributing factor in triggering FLHS.

Dr. Squire's lab is also continuing their studies on the prevention of ascites in broilers. In their proposed research they intend to investigate dietary fatty acid composition, fat quality, antioxidants and organic phosphates on the incidence of ascites. These dietary factors will be investigated for their effect on deformability of red blood cells and resistance to blood flow through the lungs. Also, genetic and biochemical factors affecting oxygen transfer to the tissues will also be studied.

Ascites continues to be a major factor leading to broiler condemnations. Thus understanding some of the biochemical factors that can possibly interact to trigger the disease, is an important step in helping to provide answers that may eventually lead to alleviating this problem.

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Author: Jim Squires - Professor Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/University of Guelph; Pat Gentry - Professor Biomedical Science/University of Guelph
Creation Date: 1 June 2001
Last Reviewed: 8 June 2010