Effects of L-carnitine on fetal growth and the IGF system in pigs

A. T. Waylan, J. P. Kayser, D. P. Gnad, J. J. Higgins, J. D. Starkey, E. K. Sissom, J. C. Woodworth, B. J. Johnson

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25 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1824-1831
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2005


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • L-Carnitine
  • Messenger RNA
  • Myoblasts
  • Pigs


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