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The biological activity of retinoic acid in the domestic fowl and the effects of vitamin A deficiency on the chick embryo

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

J. N. Thampson
Affiliation:
Departments of Biochemistry and Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool
J. McC. Howell
Affiliation:
Departments of Biochemistry and Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool
G. A. J. Pitt
Affiliation:
Departments of Biochemistry and Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool
Catherine I. McLaughlin
Affiliation:
Departments of Biochemistry and Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool
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Abstract

1. Male and female chickens were reared from hatching on vitamin A-free diets, either unsupplemented or containing retinoic acid (vitamin A acid), methyl retinoate or retinyl acetate (vitamin A acetate). The birds given retinyl acetate grew well and had a normal appearance, but those given the unsupplemented diet died before 4 weeks of age after developing typical signs of avitaminosis A. The birds given retinoic acid or methyl retinoate did not show overt signs of vitamin A deficiency or other abnormalities except for a progressive failure of vision. Minimal histological changes were found in their retinas, and their vision was rapidly restored after feeding with retinyl acetate.

2. The cocks maintained with retinoic acid or methyl retinoate had normal testes and the hens laid eggs at a normal rate, but although their eggs could be obtained fertile the development of the embryo became abnormal after 2 days incubation and it always died. The development of the embryos could be stimulated and sometimes restored to normal by injection of various forms of vitamin A into the eggs before incubation, or by previous administration of retinyl acetate to the hens.

3. It is concluded that feeding retinoic acid as the sole source of vitamin A enables the hen to produce eggs that lack vitamin A but are otherwise normal, thus permitting the demonstration of a hitherto undescribed requirement of the early chick embryo for vitamin A.

4. The toxicity of vitamin A derivatives to chick embryos was investigated; injected retinoic acid was found to be extremely toxic.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 1969

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