Fetal and neonatal programming of postnatal growth and feed efficiency in swine
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Maternal undernutrition or overnutrition during pregnancy alters organ structure, impairs prenatal and neonatal growth and development, and reduces feed efficiency for lean tissue gains in pigs. These adverse effects may be carried over to the next generation or beyond. This phenomenon of the transgenerational impacts is known as fetal programming, which is mediated by stable and heritable alterations of gene expression through covalent modifications of DNA and histones without changes in DNA sequences (namely, epigenetics). The mechanisms responsible for the epigenetic regulation of protein expression and functions include chromatin remodeling; DNA methylation (occurring at the 5´-position of cytosine residues within CpG dinucleotides); and histone modifications (acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation, and ubiquitination). Like maternal malnutrition, undernutrition during the neonatal period also reduces growth performance and feed efficiency (weight gain:feed intake; also known as weight-gain efficiency) in postweaning pigs by 5-10%, thereby increasing the days necessary to reach the market body-weight. Supplementing functional amino acids (e.g., arginine and glutamine) and vitamins (e.g., folate) play a key role in activating the mammalian target of rapamycin signaling and regulating the provision of methyl donors for DNA and protein methylation. Therefore, these nutrients are beneficial for the dietary treatment of metabolic disorders in offspring with intrauterine growth restriction or neonatal malnutrition. The mechanism-based strategies hold great promise for the improvement of the efficiency of pork production and the sustainability of the global swine industry.
author list (cited authors)
Ji, Y., Wu, Z., Dai, Z., Wang, X., Li, J. u., Wang, B., & Wu, G.