Daily changes in the concentrations of plasma corticosterone, prolactin, thyroid hormones and somatomedin C were measured in 28-day-old fat and lean lines of broilers produced by selection for high and low concentrations of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL). The effects of daily injections of corticosterone on the concentrations of these hormones and on fattening were compared in the two lines. The selection procedure had no effect on the concentrations of any of the hormones. However, daily rhythms in concentrations of plasma corticosterone, tri-iodothyronine (T3) and prolactin were less often observed in the fat line than in the lean line. No differences were seen between lines in the daily rhythms in plasma thyroxine (T4) and somatomedin C. Daily injections of 2500 μg corticosterone/kg body weight, in both lines, depressed mean concentrations of plasma prolactin, T3 and somatomedin C and body weight. This dose of corticosterone also increased abdominal fat pad and liver weights expressed as a percentage of body weight. The liver and fat pad responses to 2500 μg corticosterone in both lines were greater when the steroid was injected at the end rather than towards the beginning of the 14-h daily photoperiod. There was no difference between the lines in the fattening response to corticosterone. Lower doses of 100 and 500 μg corticosterone per day did not induce fattening or affect concentrations of plasma prolactin. They did, however, depress concentrations of plasma T3. Concentrations of plasma T4 were increased in both lines treated with 2500, but not with 100 or 500 μg corticosterone, towards the beginning of the daily photoperiod. It is concluded that selection for low and high concentrations of VLDL does not affect mean levels of the hormones measured at 28 days of age or the fattening response to corticosterone. It does, however, alter the amplitude in the daily rhythm in concentrations of corticosterone, T3 and prolactin. The fattening response to corticosterone is associated with depressed concentrations of plasma prolactin, T3 and somatomedin C.
J. Endocr. (1987) 112, 229–237