White striping (WS) is an emerging myopathy of broiler chickens characterized by white striation of muscle. Despite the recent advances, the pathomechanism underlying the WS remains elusive. The aim of this study was to characterize morphological and molecular features of WS in broiler chickens. 50 pectoralis muscles were collected from 55 days old ROSS 308 broiler chickens with a mean weight of 3.5 kg. Samples were snap frozen and analyzed by histopathology, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence. Real-time-PCR was used to evaluate the expression of different cytokines. Histological lesions were observed in all examined animals, both with and without macroscopic evidence of WS. WS muscles showed endomysial and perivascular inflammatory infiltrates of macrophages and cluster of differentiation (CD)8-positive T lymphocytes with severe myofiber atrophy, necrosis, fibrosis and replacement by adipose tissue. There was diffuse sarcoplasmic and sarcolemmal overexpression of the major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I). The severity of the histologic lesions was positively correlated with the macroscopic degree of white striations. IL-6, IL-17 and lipopolysaccharide-induced TNF-α factor (LITAF) were overexpressed in severe lesions of WS. The presence of the CD8/MHC I complexes, together with the higher expression of IL-6, IL-17 and LITAF in severe degree of WS, suggest that the immune response may be involved in the progression of this myopathy and can be consistent with a hypoxia-induced inflammatory myopathy. These results help to understand the pathomechanism of WS contributing to the reduction of economic losses and improving poultry welfare.
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