Mitochondria as promising targets for nutritional interventions aiming to improve performance and longevity of sows.

Lapointe, J. (2014). "Mitochondria as promising targets for nutritional interventions aiming to improve performance and longevity of sows.", Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 98(5), pp. 809-821. doi : 10.1111/jpn.12160  Access to full text


Genetic selection and management changes during the last decades have significantly increased the average litter size of sows. However, this recent success has not correlated with an extension of longevity and reduction in replacement rate. Longevity or lifetime production of sows is determined by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Nutrition is an environmental factor of importance, and it has long been appreciated that animals fed with specific diets may perform differently. The advent of modern science revealed that this is partly due to the ability of nutrients to act as signalling molecules that, through appropriate intracellular sensing mechanisms, can control gene expression and modulate cell functions. Based on this concept, nutrigenomics studies now aim to show that not only are certain nutrients essential for general health, but also that specific quantities of precise nutrients are necessary during critical periods of energy deficiency and oxidative stress such as gestation and lactation to ensure long-term productivity. The toxic molecules at the origin of oxidative stress, free radicals, are mainly generated as normal by-products of aerobic energy production by mitochondria. In all cells, mitochondria are dynamic organelles that are mainly known as the primary energy-generating system. Thus, when metabolic demands are elevated as it is for hyperprolific sows, mitochondria are heavily solicited for answering all energetic needs, and substantive amounts of free radicals are generated. As a result, optimal conditions in term of antioxidant protection and metabolic substrates availability are required to support mitochondrial function in these animals. This article discusses how performance and longevity of sows are linked to mitochondrial function and oxidative stress and reviews the major natural nutrients known for their antioxidant and/or energetic properties that are susceptible to impact mitochondria and likely improved sows productivity.

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