Heat stress (HS) has become one of the important factors affecting the development of animal husbandry. The purpose of this experiment was to investigate whether vitamin C (Vc) and betaine (Bet) improve immune organ index and humoral immunity by enhancing the antioxidant status of immune organs, thus protecting broilers from HS-induced injuries. A total of 200 28-day-old Ross 308 broilers were randomly assigned into 5 groups (n = 4 replicates/group, 10 broilers/replicate) which were reared at different ambient temperatures (24 ± 1°C or 33 ± 1°C). The control group fed basal diet, while high-temperature groups were either fed a basal diet (HS group) or a basal diet supplemented with 250-mg Vc/kg diet (HSVc group), 1000-mg Bet/kg diet (HSBet group), and 250-mg Vc plus 1000 mg Bet/kg diet (HSVcBet group), respectively. On day 42, growth performance, humoral immune function, immune organ index, and antioxidant capacity were measured. HS reduced the productive performance of broilers, antibody potency against the Newcastle disease virus (NDV) and sheep red blood cells (SRBC), indices of thymus and bursa, and antioxidant capacity of immune organs. Adding Vc alone or in combination with Bet improved performance, NDV and SRBC antibody potency, thymus and bursa indices, and antioxidant capacity of immune organs in heat-stressed broilers, with the most effective being combination. In summary, HS reduces the antioxidant capacity and immune organ development status of broiler immune organs. Vc and/or Bet can improve the development of immune organs and restore part of the production performance by regulating the antioxidant status of immune organs, among which the combined addition of Vc and Bet has the best effect.
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