, 13:77 | Cite as

Serum-based metabolomics characterization of pigs treated with ractopamine

  • Tao Peng
  • Anne-Lise Royer
  • Yann Guitton
  • Bruno Le Bizec
  • Gaud Dervilly-PinelEmail author
Original Article



Ractopamine, a β-agonist used as growth promoter in livestock, is with great controversy, and it has been forbidden in most countries worldwide. However, due to economic benefits, the possibility of widespread abuse of ractopamine still exists. “Omics” strategies, based on the observation of physiological perturbations, are promising approaches to tackle drug misuse in breeding animals.


A study was performed to determine if serum-metabolomics could be used to establish a predictive tool for identifying ractopamine misuse in pigs.


Our aim was to set up a high performance liquid chromatography—high resolution mass spectrometry based metabolomics workflow for screening pig serum for ractopamine administration. Therefore, an untargeted metabolomics approach was developed to characterize and compare serum metabolic profiles from control and treated pigs. Two different extraction strategies were investigated, and the results showed that the combination of methanol extraction and methanol–water extraction protocols significantly improve the metabolites coverage. A two-level data analysis using univariate and multivariate statistical analyses was carried out to establish descriptive and predictive models.


The discrimination of treated animals from control animals could be achieved. A number of candidate biomarkers that contributed the most in the observed discrimination could be listed.


This research indicates that metabolomics approach can be considered as a powerful strategy to highlight biomarkers related to ractopamine treatment in pig which may subsequently be implemented as screening strategy to predict for such illicit practices.


β-Agonist Livestock Untargeted HPLC–HRMS Biomarker Omics 


Compliance with ethical standards

Compliance with animal studies and ethical standards

The animal study was approved by the national Ethical Committee (n°6) under agreement 2,015,092,516,084,715 / APAFIS 1914 (CRIP-2015-054).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Compliance with ethical requirements

We confirm that this manuscript has not been published elsewhere and is not under consideration in another journal. All authors have approved the version of this manuscript and agree with its submission to Metabolomics.

Supplementary material

11306_2017_1212_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1049 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oniris, Laboratoire d’Etude des Résidus et Contaminants dans les Aliments (LABERCA)LUNAM UniversitéNantesFrance
  2. 2.Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine (CAIQ)BeijingChina

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