Under our "Chicken Health" project we will be investigating the molecular mechanisms that cause some chickens to develop wooden breast syndrome.

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01. Dec 2021


01. Apr 2025

Funded by

The Research Council of Norway


Stony Brook University, New York, USA, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Ås, Norway og University of Oslo, Norway


Muscular defects in chickens, called wooden breast syndrome (WB), are a serious problem for chicken producers in respect of both animal welfare and profitability for the industry. 

WB is found in chicken breasts both internationally and in Norway. 

During the chicken production process WB fillets are currently only sorted out after the chickens have been slaughtered and then these fillets often have to be discarded due to their poor quality. 

A better understanding of the biological mechanisms that cause WB is essential for developing optimal screening tools and being able to diagnose the disease earlier in the process, thus laying the foundations for future treatment strategies and genetic improvements. 

Muscle deformities in chicken, called Wooden Breast syndrome (WB), are a serious problem for chicken production The picture on the left shows a normal chicken breast. The picture to the right shows the chicken breast hit by WB. Photo: Nofima


The pathology of WB shows increased extracellular matrix production (fibrosis) and the degeneration of muscle tissue. In addition to being up-regulated in WB, syndecans have a wide range of biological functions and play a key role in tissue regeneration (renewal). 

On the other hand there are few studies on their possible function as regulators of the development of this pathology. 

The main objective of the project is to investigate whether or not syndecans are biological markers for the development of WB and can act as biomarkers in blood tests or as future therapeutic targets for the reduction of any such occurrences. Knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of syndecans could possibly lay the foundations for a more finely tuned diagnosis and a screening tool for use before the chickens are slaughtered. 

This is what we are doing

Under our “Chicken Health” project we will be investigating the molecular mechanisms that cause some chickens to develop wooden breast syndrome. 

Our main focus is on extracellular matrix components, particularly a specific group of proteins called syndecans.