Endocrine Abstracts (2004) 7 P44

Effect of size at birth on glucose tolerance in pigs at 5 months of age

KS Perkins, J Laws, JC Litten, AM Corson & L Clarke


Department of Agricultural Sciences, Imperial College London (Wye Campus), Wye, Ashford, Kent, UK.


Abnormal foetal growth is associated with an increased predisposition to impaired glucose metabolism (Hales and Barker. Diabetologia 1992; 35: 595-601). The aim of the study was to examine whether size at birth influenced glucose tolerance in pigs at 5 months of age.

The litters from 4 multiparous sows were weighed at birth. A low (L: <10th percentile) and normal (N: 40th-60th percentile) piglet was selected from each litter using the normal distribution curve of birth weights. An intravenous glucose tolerance test was performed at 143±3 (mean±SEM) days of age. Glucose was infused at a dose of 0.5g/kg body weight and blood samples were taken at -10, -5, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 and 60 min relative to the start of glucose infusion. Blood glucose concentration was assessed using an Esprit 2 glucometer (Bayer, UK). A General Linear Model, ANOVA was used to assess differences between the groups.

Piglet birth weights were 0.99±0.09 and 1.62±0.09kg for L and N respectively. Basal blood glucose concentration was similar for L and N pigs (L: 3.6±0.4, N: 3.8±0.4mmol/l). Area under the glucose peak was higher (P<0.05) in L pigs (L: 222±24, N: 116±24 (mmol/l).min). Basal-basal time was longer (P<0.05) in L pigs (L: 46.3±4.7, N: 27.6±4.7 min) and area under the entire curve was also greater (P<0.05) in L pigs (L: 205±28, N: 78±28 (mmol/l).min).

In conclusion, size at birth has a significant influence on the glucose metabolism of the prepubertal pig. It is not known whether this effect is due to insulin deficiency or increased hepatic gluconeogenic enzyme activity.

This work was funded by PERILIP, supported by the EU (QLK1-2001-00138).

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