This study was conducted to evaluate the protective effects of vitamin C on copper-induced oxidative damage in the erythrocyte and liver of broiler chickens. Three week old birds were fed a basal diet (n = 40), or basal diet supplemented with 250 mg CuSO4/kg diet (n = 40) for 56 days. On the 57th day, the birds of the two groups were further subdivided and fed for 14 days as follows: Group 1A (Control, n = 20), fed with basal diet only. Group 1B (Vitamin C, n = 20), fed with basal diet and 100 mg/kg diet vitamin C. Group 2A (CuSO4, n = 20), fed with basal diet and 250 mg CuSO4/kg diet. Group 2B (CuSO4 + Vitamin C, n = 20), fed with basal diet, 250 mg CuSO4/kg diet and 100 mg/kg diet vitamin C. Copper supplementation for eight weeks caused oxidative damage as evidenced by a significant (p < 0.05) increase in copper level and lipid peroxidation as well as decreased antioxidant enzymes [superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT)] activities and reduced glutathione (GSH) level. Vitamin C supplementation for 14 days resulted in a significant (p < 0.05) reduction in copper level in exposed birds. Erythrocyte and liver lipid peroxidation were reduced by 48 and 52%, respectively. SOD and CAT activities also increased significantly (p < 0.05), and the decreased level of GSH that was observed in the copper exposed birds was reversed. Our findings indicate that vitamin C may be beneficial in preventing copper-induced oxidative damage in poultry, and shows potential for veterinary use.
Key words: Antioxidant systems, broiler chickens, catalase, copper, glutathione, oxidative damage, superoxide dismutase, vitamin C.
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