Effects of ractopamine and sex on serum metabolites and skeletal muscle gene expression in finishing steers and heifers

D. K. Walker, E. C. Titgemeyer, T. J. Baxa, K. Y. Chung, D. E. Johnson, S. B. Laudert, B. J. Johnson

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26 Scopus citations


We evaluated growth-related responses to ractopamine in steers and heifers. Sixteen Angus steers (512 kg) and 16 Angus heifers (473 kg) housed in individual pens were used in a complete block design. At 90 to 97 d before the experiment, steers were implanted with 120 mg of trenbolone acetate and 24 mg of estradiol-17β (Component TE-S) and heifers were implanted with 140 mg of trenbolone acetate and 14 mg of estradiol-17β (Component TE-H). Treatments were arranged as a 2 × 2 factorial and included sex (steer vs. heifer) and ractopamine-HCl (0 or 200 mg/d). Cattle were fed a diet based on steam-flaked corn once daily. Blood and LM and biceps femoris (BF) biopsy samples were collected on d 0 (before ractopamine feeding) and after 14 and 28 d of ractopamine feeding. Serum insulin concentrations were not affected by ractopamine or sex. Serum IGF-I concentrations were greater in steers than heifers (P < 0.001), and steers demonstrated greater IGF-I mRNA expression in BF than heifers (P = 0.05). Ractopamine decreased serum IGF-I concentrations in heifers on d 14, but increased serum IGF-I concentrations in steers on d 28 (sex × ractopamine × day interaction; P = 0.03). Ractopamine did not affect (P ≥ 0.19) mRNA expression of IGF-I, IGFBP-3, or calpastatin in BF or LM. However, ractopamine led to increases in LM expression of IGFBP-5 in heifers, but to decreases in expression in steers (ractopamine × sex interaction; P = 0.04). Ractopamine decreased myosin heavy chain IIA mRNA expression in BF (P = 0.04) but not in LM (P = 0.99). Ractopamine decreased β2-receptor mRNA expression in LM of steers on d 14, but not on d 28; in contrast, expression of β2-receptor mRNA in LM of heifers was not affected by ractopamine (sex × ractopamine × day interaction; P = 0.03). Although there were a few criteria for which ractopamine led to differences in response between steers and heifers, there were no striking disparities to suggest that the effectiveness of ractopamine would markedly differ between sexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1349-1357
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Cattle
  • Gene expression
  • Muscle
  • Ractopamine
  • Sex


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