In order to improve understanding of the heat-induced changes in muscle growth, we determined the expression of genes related to protein and energy metabolism in the pectoralis major muscle of chickens. We also explored the protein kinase B (PKB also called Akt)/p70 S6 kinase (S6K1)/S6 pathway that mediates anabolic signals thereby regulating metabolism and hypertrophic/atrophic balance. Four-week-old chickens were exposed to 32 or 22 degrees C for 1 week. Chickens from both groups were then fasted for 16 h or left fed, and submitted to an oral administration of glucose-arginine to induce an anabolic response (30-min treatment) or left untreated. High ambient temperature and the associated decrease in feed intake modified the expression of certain energy-related genes (e.g. -40% for PGC-1 alpha.) and protein metabolism (e.g. about +80% for atrogin-1), but the expression of several muscle metabolism-related genes considered here was unchanged. The capacity for muscle protein synthesis, i.e. RNA/protein ratio, was reduced in warm conditions (similar to-20%). Slightly lower activation of S6 induced by glucose-arginine treatment was found at 32 degrees C compared to 22 degrees C, which might indicate somewhat lower efficiency of mRNA translation. Analysis of glucose/insulin balance suggested changes in glucose metabolism under heat exposure. However, this remains to be characterized. (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.