Amino Acids

, Volume 51, Issue 10–12, pp 1657–1666 | Cite as

Methionine restriction at the post-weanling period promotes muscle fiber transition in piglets and improves intramuscular fat content in growing-finishing pigs

  • Li Wu
  • Haiwen Zhang
  • Lin Na
  • Xihong ZhouEmail author
  • Xiang Li
  • Yurong Zhao
  • Zhen WenEmail author
  • Qinghua HeEmail author
Original Article


The effects of methionine restriction on lipid metabolism in the liver and adipose tissue have been well determined, while its effects on the skeletal muscle have not been fully studied. The present study was conducted to explore whether methionine restriction in weanling piglets would affect skeletal muscle lipid content and fiber type and whether such changes would further affect the meat quality of growing-finishing pigs. A total of 28 crossbred healthy barrows weaned at the age of 21 days were randomly allotted to two treatments and fed either a methionine-restricted diet (0.25% methionine) or a control diet (0.48% methionine) for 4 weeks. After this period, the pigs were fed the same basal diet throughout the growing-finishing period. The results showed that methionine restriction during the post-weanling period of piglets enhanced lipid accumulation and promoted the formation of slow-twitch muscle fibers in the skeletal muscle, while it had no effects on growth performance. We hypothesized that such effects might be mediated by AMPK-PGC-1α signaling pathway. Furthermore, the effects of methionine restriction on the skeletal muscle of pigs at the post-weanling period had a subsequent effect on growing-finishing pigs, which showed a higher intramuscular fat content. Our results suggest that dietary methionine restriction in piglets at an early stage might be an alternative method for improving meat quality.


Intramuscular fat Lipid Meat quality Methionine Myofiber type 



This study was funded by National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFD0500405), Financial Support by National Top Disciplines Development Project for Innovation Team (KXK201801004), Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province (2017JJ3373), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31702125), and the Earmarked Fund for China Agriculture Research System (CARS-35).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The experimental protocol was approved by the Protocol Management and Review Committee of Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Science. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of Institute of Subtropical Agriculture on Animal Care. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food Science and Engineering, College of Chemistry and Environmental EngineeringShenzhen UniversityShenzhenChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region, Institute of Subtropical AgricultureThe Chinese Academy of SciencesChangshaChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Tropical Animal Breeding and Epidemic Disease Research of Hainan ProvinceHainan UniversityHaikouChina
  4. 4.China Institute of Veterinary Drug ControlBeijingChina
  5. 5.Hunan Co-Innovation Center of Animal Production Safety, CICAPS, College of Animal Science and TechnologyHunan Agricultural UniversityChangshaChina

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