Dietary supplementation with L-arginine between days 14 and 25 of gestation enhances embryonic development and survival in gilts.
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Embryonic loss is a major problem in mammals, but there are few effective ways to prevent it. Using a porcine model, we determined effects of dietary L-arginine supplementation between days 14 and 25 of gestation on embryonic growth and survival. Gilts were checked daily for estrus with boars in the morning and bred at onset of the second estrus and 12 h later (the time of breeding = day 0 of gestation). Between days 14 and 25 of gestation, 15 gilts/treatment were housed individually and fed twice daily 1 kg of a corn- and soybean meal-based diet supplemented with 0.0, 0.4, or 0.8 % L-arginine. All diets were made isonitrogenous by addition of L-alanine. On day 25 of gestation, gilts were hysterectomized to obtain conceptuses. Compared with controls, dietary supplementation with 0.4 or 0.8 % L-arginine increased (P 0.05) arginine concentrations in maternal plasma, total volume of amniotic fluid; total amounts of arginine in allantoic and amniotic fluids; total amounts of fructose and most amino acids in amniotic fluid; placental growth; and the number of viable fetuses per litter by 2. The numbers of total fetuses, fetal weight, corpora lutea, volume of allantoic fluid, maternal circulating levels of progesterone and estrogen, or total amounts of hormones in allantoic fluid did not differ among the three treatment groups. Reproductive performance of gilts did not differ between the 0.4 and 0.8 % L-arginine groups. Thus, dietary supplementation with 0.4 or 0.8 % L-arginine between days 14 and 25 of gestation enhances embryonic/fetal survival in swine.