Previous studies documented the common occurrence of transitory cyanosis and echocardiographic aortic insufficiency in mature commercial broiler breeder roosters. During further investigations, we observed a high prevalence of hearts exhibiting extensive dilation of the left ventricle chamber compatible with dilated left ventricular cardiomyopathy present in both cyanotic and normal subpopulations. We conducted quantitative studies focused on documentation of cardiac ventricle parameters by using simple gross morphometric methods performed on formalin-fixed hearts obtained from both clinically normal roosters and those exhibiting variable transitory cyanosis, echocardiographic aortic insufficiency, or both. A high prevalence of often dramatic left ventricular dilation reflected in enlarged left ventricular chamber areas and elevated left ventricle-to-total ventricle area ratios was morphometrically documented. However, no statistically significant differences in the occurrence of ventricular abnormalities were observed between normal and cyanotic roosters. Age-associated changes were also demonstrated by comparative morphometric studies on hearts from normal market-age broilers (average age of 7 wk) and those of mature roosters (average age of 42 wk). Elevation in both left and right ventricular weight-to-total heart weight ratios dramatically increased with aging. In addition, values (average ± SD) for the left ventricle chamber area-to-total ventricle area ratios increased from 3.2 ± 2.0% in broilers up to 10.0 ± 8.8% in roosters. None of the normal broilers studied demonstrated left ventricular volume ratios above 10%, whereas 33% of the roosters had left ventricular volume ratios above 10%, including 13% with ratios of 20% or higher. However, the left ventricle wall area-to-body weight ratios were much closer for the two age groups (0.85 ± 0.18 cm2/kg in broilers and 0.79 ± 0.13 cm2/kg in roosters). Also, the standard right ventricle-to-total ventricle weight ratio (RV/TV) went from 0.18 ± 0.04 in broilers to 0.25 ± 0.12 in roosters, whereas the left ventricle-to-total ventricle weight ratios were similar for the two age groups (0.74 ± 0.12 and 0.75 ± 0.08 in broilers and roosters, respectively). Our results for RV/TV in normal broilers were similar to the reported values for normal market-age broilers. In contrast, 36% of the roosters had RV/TV above values reported for broilers considered reflective of right ventricular hypertrophy due to pulmonary hypertension, whereas 4% had values above the reported threshold for broilers dying with ascites (ratios greater than 0.0249 and 0.299, respectively). However, ascites was not observed for any of the roosters. Although essentially all cardiac morphometric parameters demonstrated statistically significant correlations with the age-class group comparisons, significance could not be documented for comparisons between cardiomorphometrics and the subjective occurrences of transitory cyanosis or echocardiographic aortic insufficiency.
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Vol. 60 • No. 3