Fetuses of lean and obese swine in late gestation: body composition, plasma hormones and muscle development.

E. C. Hoffman, P. J. Wangsness, D. R. Hagen, T. D. Etherton

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19 Scopus citations


The development of obesity in porcine fetuses was investigated using a lean and obese strain of pigs at 80, 90, 100 and 110 d of gestation. In absolute terms, fetuses of obese gilts (FO) generally had lower carcass weight and contained less total protein, dry matter and ash than fetuses of lean gilts (FL). In relative terms (percentage of wet carcass weight) FO, compared with FL, generally had decreased percentages of water and increased percentages of protein and lipid. Comparisons based on absolute terms revealed body composition of the strains to be different at 90 d, indicating that factors responsible for obese-type growth were active before that time. Both body composition and hormone concentration differences were most pronounced at later gestation ages. Depressed growth hormone, elevated cortisol, and a tendency toward elevated insulin concentrations in fetal plasma were apparent in late gestation for FO compared with FL. These hormonal patterns are consistent with onset of obesity in FO in late gestation. Greater weights of semitendinosus and longissimus muscles were observed in FL vs FO at 90, 100 and 110 d of gestation (P less than .05). These greater muscle weights were generally accompanied by greater contents of RNA, DNA and protein in FL muscles at these same ages. However, at 80 d, FL had greater absolute DNA content in semitendinosus muscle whereas muscle weight was similar between the strains. This suggests that greater muscle weights for FL than FO were caused by more nuclei in muscle of FL. In general, indices of hypertrophy (protein/DNA) and protein synthetic capacity (RNA/DNA) of muscle were usually similar for both strains at all gestation ages. It is concluded that decreased muscle growth in late gestation of FO compared with FL is more related to fewer total nuclei and perhaps fewer myofibers than to an impaired cellular capacity for protein synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-620
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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