Broiler chickens reared under heat stress (HS) conditions have decreased growth performance and show metabolic and immunologic alterations. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of supplementation with a standardized blend of plant-derived isoquinoline alkaloids (IQ) on the growth performance, protein catabolism, intestinal barrier function, and inflammatory status of HS-treated chickens. Three hundred sixty 0-day-old Ross 308 male broiler chickens were randomly distributed into 2 treatment groups: control diet (no additives) or diet supplemented with 100 ppm IQ. At day 14, the chicks in each diet group were further divided into 2 groups, each of which was reared under thermoneutral (TN) (22.4°C) or constant HS (33.0°C) conditions until day 42. Each group consisted of 6 replicates with 15 birds per replicate, and chickens were provided ad libitum access to water and feed. During days 15–21, the body weight gain (BWG) and feed intake (FI) were significantly lower in the HS treatment group than in the TN group, and feed conversion ratio was higher (P < 0.05); these factors were not alleviated by IQ supplementation. During days 22–42, the final BW, BWG, and FI of the HS birds were better among those administered IQ than those that were not (P < 0.05). HS treatment increased plasma lipid peroxide, corticosterone, and uric acid concentrations as well as serum fluorescein isothiocyanate–dextran, a marker of intestinal barrier function, and decreased plasma total protein content (P < 0.05). These changes were not observed in the IQ group, suggesting that IQ supplementation improved oxidative damage, protein catabolism, and intestinal barrier function of chickens under HS. Isoquinoline alkaloid supplementation inhibited the expression of intestinal inflammatory factors, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor–like factor 1A, and inducible nitric oxide synthase under HS treatment (P < 0.05). These results suggest that IQ supplementation can improve the growth performance of broiler chickens under HS conditions, which may be associated with amelioration of oxidative damage, protein catabolism, intestinal barrier function, and inflammation.
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