Delayed muscle development in small pig fetuses around birth cannot be rectified by maternal early feed restriction and subsequent overfeeding during gestation.

Perruchot, M.H., Lefaucheur, L., Louveau, I., Mobuchon, L., Palin, M.-F., Farmer, C., and Gondret, F. (2015). "Delayed muscle development in small pig fetuses around birth cannot be rectified by maternal early feed restriction and subsequent overfeeding during gestation.", Animal, 9(12), pp. 1996-2005. doi : 10.1017/S1751731115001202  Access to full text

Abstract

Intrauterine variations in nutrient allowance can alter body composition and tissue features of the porcine offspring around birth. This study aimed to determine the effects of fetal weight variations between littermates and of maternal dietary regimen during gestation on fetal muscle traits just before birth. Fourteen pregnant gilts were reared under a conventional (control, CTL; n=7) or an experimental (treatment, TRT; n=7) dietary regimen during gestation. The dietary treatment provided 70% of the protein and digestible energy contents of the CTL diet during the first 70 days of gestation and then, 115% of the protein and digestible energy contents up to farrowing. At 110 days of gestation, sows were sacrificed and one fetus having a low (824±140 g) and one having a normal (1218±192 g) BW per litter were sampled. Irrespective of maternal dietary regimen, the longissimus muscle of the small fetuses exhibited higher expression levels of DLK1/Pref1 and NCAM1/CD56, two genes known to be downregulated during normal skeletal muscle development. Expression levels of the embryonic isoform of the myosin heavy chain (MyHC), both at the mRNA and at the protein levels, were also higher in small fetuses. In addition, the ratios of perinatal to embryonic and of adult fast to developmental MyHC isoforms were generally lower in light fetuses compared with their medium-weight littermates. These modifications suggest a delayed myofiber development in spontaneous growth-retarded fetuses. Finally, GLUT1 was expressed to a lesser extent in the muscle of small v. normal fetuses, suggesting decreased ability for glucose uptake in muscle. Initial feed restriction and subsequent overfeeding of sows during gestation led to a lower expression of the myogenic factor MYOD1, a prerequisite for myogenic initiation in skeletal muscle. This maternal strategy was also associated with a lower expression level of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGFR) but an upregulation of IGF2. This suggests an altered susceptibility of muscle cells to IGFs’ signal in fetuses from treated sows. Altogether, intrauterine growth restriction impaired fetal muscle development, and restricted feeding followed by overfeeding of gestating sows did not allow small fetuses to recover normal contractile and metabolic characteristics.

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