The biology of somatotropin in adipose tissue growth and nutrient partitioning

T. D. Etherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


During the past 20 years, much has been learned about how porcine somatotropin (pST) affects growth and nutrient partitioning in growing pigs. The development of techniques to produce large quantities of recombinantly derived pST enabled numerous long-term studies to be conducted in which the effects of daily pST administration could be evaluated. Collectively, these studies established that treatment of growing pigs with pST markedly stimulated muscle growth and, concurrently, reduced fat deposition. In growing pigs, maximally effective doses of pST increase average daily gain as much as 10-20%, improve feed efficiency 15-30%, decrease adipose tissue mass and lipid accretion rates by as much as 50-80% and concurrently increase protein deposition by 50%. These effects are associated with a decrease in feed intake of ~10-15%. These responses occur because pST has a wide array of biological effects that modulate nutrient partitioning between adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. The decrease in adipose tissue growth is due to a reduction in lipogenesis that is the consequence of pST blunting the effects of many insulin-dependent events. With respect to fatty acid synthase (FAS), a pace-setting enzyme in the lipogenic pathway, enzyme activity is markedly reduced by pST. This is the result of a pST-mediated decrease in FAS mRNA levels that occurs because FAS gene transcription is decreased. The consequence of the decrease in lipid synthesis is that adipocyte hypertrophy is impaired and, hence, tissue growth. This review will provide an overview of some of the biological effects of pST in adipose tissue and will discuss what is known about the underlying mechanisms that account for these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2623-2625
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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