Enhanced mitochondrial complex gene function and reduced liver size may mediate improved feed efficiency of beef cattle during compensatory growth
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Growing ruminants under extended dietary restriction exhibit compensatory growth upon ad libitum feeding, which is associated with increased feed efficiency, lower basal energy requirements, and changes in circulating concentrations of metabolic hormones. To identify mechanisms contributing to these physiological changes, 8-month-old steers were fed either ad libitum (control; n = 6) or 60–70% of intake of control animals (feed-restricted; n = 6) for a period of 12 weeks. All steers were fed ad libitum for the remaining 8 weeks of experimentation (realimentation). Liver was biopsied at days −14, +1, and +14 relative to realimentation for gene expression analysis by microarray hybridization. During early realimentation, feed-restricted steers exhibited greater rates of gain and feed efficiency than controls and an increase in expression of genes functioning in cellular metabolism, cholesterol biosynthesis, oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, and gluconeogenesis. Gene expression changes during feed restriction were similar to those reported in mice, indicating similar effects of caloric restriction across species. Based on expression of genes involved in cell division and growth and upregulation of genes encoding mitochondrial complex proteins in early realimentation, it was concluded that reduced hepatic size and increased mitochondrial function may contribute to improved feed efficiency observed during compensatory growth.
KeywordsCattle Feed efficiency Liver Microarray
The authors thank Marsha Campbell and Dennis Hucht for their technical assistance and Roxane Macdonald, Ben Bache, Duane Taylor, George Bowman, Abraham Alignay, and the BARC Research Support Services staff for their assistance in conducting the animal portion of the study. Mention of trade names or commercial products is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture. Current affiliation of S.M. Barao is the Maryland Cattlemen's Association, 7566 Main St., Sykesville, MD 21784, USA.
The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.
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