Ontogenic development of brown adipose tissue in Angus and Brahman fetal calves. Academic Article uri icon


  • Brahman calves experience greater neonatal mortality than Angus calves if cold-stressed. To establish a developmental basis for this, three fetuses of each breed type were taken at 96, 48, 24, 14, and 6 d before expected parturition, and at parturition. Overall fetal BW tended (P = 0.08) to be greater for Angus than for Brahman fetuses. There was no difference between breed types in total brown adipose tissue (BAT) mass or grams of BAT/kg BW. Brown adipocyte density decreased 56%, whereas lipogenesis from acetate and glucose in vitro decreased 97% during the last 96 d of gestation in both breed types. Glycerolipid synthesis from palmitate declined by 85% during the last trimester but still contributed 98% to total lipid synthesis at birth. The fetal age x breed interaction was significant for lipogenesis from glucose (P = 0.05) and palmitate (P = 0.005); rates were higher at 96 d before birth in Brahman BAT but declined to similar rates by birth. Uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) mRNA tripled during gestation in both breed types (P = 0.002), whereas mitochondrial cross-sectional area did not change (P = 0.14) during gestation. Neither the breed nor the age x breed effect was significant (P > or = 0.24) for UCP1 mRNA concentration or mitochondrial cross-sectional area. In both breed types, a marked decrease in BAT UCP1 mRNA between 24 and 14 d prepartum was associated with a similar reduction in lipogenesis from palmitate and a noticeable change in BAT mitochondrial morphology, as the mitochondria became more elongated and the cristae became more elaborate. Uncoupling protein-1 mRNA initially was elevated in Angus tailhead s.c. adipose tissue, but was barely detectable by birth, and tended to be greater overall (P = 0.09) in Angus than in Brahman BAT. If uncoupling protein activity in s.c. adipose tissue persists after birth, then s.c. adipose tissue may contribute more to thermogenesis in Angus newborn calves than in Brahman calves. In contrast, we did not observe differences in ontogenic development of perirenal BAT that could explain the documented differences in thermogenic capacity between Angus and Brahman newborn calves.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Landis, M. D., Carstens, G. E., McPhail, E. G., Randel, R. D., Green, K. K., Slay, L., & Smith, S. B.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Landis, MD||Carstens, GE||McPhail, EG||Randel, RD||Green, KK||Slay, L||Smith, SB

publication date

  • March 2002