The intestine of poultry plays a significant role in the health and production through enzymatic and microbial digestion of feed as well as absorption of nutrients. The current study was designed to explore the gross and histological alterations in the broiler duodenum and cecum triggered by dietary dexamethasone (DEX). The study was conducted on four homogenous groups of one-day-old chicks (20 chicks/group) i.e. one control (Non-DEX) and three treatment groups (DEX-1, DEX-2, and DEX-3). The broilers were fed commercial broiler feed containing DEX at the rate of 0, 3, 5, and 7mg/kg feed in the Non-DEX, DEX-1, DEX-2, and DEX-3 groups, respectively. The gross morphologic and morphometric data were recorded immediately after the collection of samples on days 7, 14, 21, and 28. Then, the tissue samples were processed for histological investigation. In the gross morphometric study, the weight, length, and width of the intestine were found significantly less in the DEX groups. Histopathological study results showed degeneration of intestinal glands (duodenum), mucosa, and lymphatic nodules with loss of lymphatic nodules (cecum). The percentage of the degenerated nodule was also increased. The length, width, and surface area of the duodenal villi, thickness of the mucosal layer of the cecum, and diameter of the cecal lymphatic nodules were substantially decreased in all the DEX groups. The magnitude of the alterations was associated with both the dose and duration of DEX treatment. However, the current study results indicate that DEX treatment significantly alters the morphologic and morphometric characteristics of the broiler intestine.
Key words: Broiler; Duodenum; Cecum; Dexamethasone; Morphology; Morphometry