The effects of L-carnitine on porcine fetal growth traits and the IGF system were determined. Fourth-parity sows were fed a gestation diet with either a 50-g top dress containing 0 (control, n = 6) or 100 mg of L-carnitine (n = 6). At midgestation, fetuses were removed for growth measurements, and porcine embryonic myoblasts (PEM) were isolated from semitendinosus. Real-time quantitative PCR was used to measure growth factor messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in the uterus, placenta, muscle, hepatic tissue, and cultured PEM. A treatment x day interaction (P = 0.02) was observed for maternal circulating total carnitine. Sows fed L-carnitine had a greater (P = 0.01) concentration of total carnitine at d 57 than control sows. Circulating IGF-I was not affected (P = 0.55) by treatment. Supplementing sows with L-carnitine resulted in larger (P = 0.02) litters (15.5 vs. 10.8 fetuses) without affecting litter weight (P = 0.07; 1,449.6 vs. 989.4 g) or individual fetal weight (P = 0.88) compared with controls. No treatment effect was found for muscle IGF-I (P = 0.36), IGF-II (P = 0.51), IGFBP-3 (P = 0.70), or IGFBP-5 (P = 0.51) mRNA abundance. The abundance of IGF-I (P = 0.72), IGF-II (P = 0.34), and IGFBP-3 (P = 0.99) in hepatic tissue was not influenced by treatment. Uterine IGF-I (P = 0.46), IGF-II (P = 0.40), IGFBP-3 (P = 0.29), and IGFBP-5 (P = 0.35) mRNA abundance did not differ between treatments. Placental IGF-I (P = 0.30), IGF-II (P = 0.18), IGFBP-3 (P = 0.94), and IGFBP-5 (P = 0.42) mRNA abundance did not differ between treatments. There was an effect of side of the uterus for IGF-I (P = 0.04) and IGF-II (P = 0.007) mRNA abundance; IGFJ mRNA abundance was greater in the left uterine horn than in the right uterine horn (0.14 and 0.07 relative units, respectively). Placental IGF-II mRNA abundance was greater (P = 0.007) in the left than in the right uterine horn (483.5 and 219.59, respectively). The abundance of IGFBP-3 was not affected by uterine horns in either uterine (P = 0.66) or placental (P = 0.13) tissue. There was no treatment difference for IGF-I (P = 0.31) or IGFBP-5 (P = 0.13) in PEM. The PEM isolated from sows fed L-carnitine had decreased IGF-II (P = 0.02), IGFBP-3 (P = 0.03), and myogenin (P = 0.04; 61, 59, and 67%, respectively) mRNA abundance compared with controls. These data suggest that L-carnitine supplemented to gestating sows altered the IGF system and may affect fetal growth and development.
- Insulin-Like Growth Factor
- Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
- Messenger RNA