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Foetal development of skeletal muscle in bovines as a function of maternal nutrition, foetal sex and gestational age.

  • Gionbelli, T R S1
  • Veloso, C M2
  • Rotta, P P2
  • Valadares Filho, S C2
  • C Carvalho, B3
  • Marcondes, M I2
  • S Cunha, C2
  • Novaes, M A S2
  • Prezotto, L D4
  • Duarte, M S2
  • Gionbelli, M P1
  • 1 Department of Animal Sciences, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Lavras, Brazil. , (Brazil)
  • 2 Department of Animal Sciences, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Brazil. , (Brazil)
  • 3 Embrapa Dairy Cattle, Brazilian Corporation of Agricultural Research, Coronel Pacheco, Brazil. , (Brazil)
  • 4 Department of Research Centers, Northern Ag Research Center, Montana State University, Havre, MT, USA.
Published Article
Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition
Publication Date
Oct 10, 2017
DOI: 10.1111/jpn.12786
PMID: 29024128


To determine the effects of maternal nutrition on modifications of foetal development of the skeletal muscle and possible increase in the potential of skeletal muscle growth in cattle, gestating cows were either fed 190% NRC recommendations (overnourished; ON) or 100% NRC recommendation (control; CO). Interaction between maternal nutrition (MN) and the foetal sex (FS) was also investigated. Foetuses were necropsied at four different time points throughout gestation (139, 199, 241 and 268 days of gestation) to assess the mRNA expression of myogenic, adipogenic and fibrogenic markers in skeletal muscle. Phenotypic indicators of the development of skeletal muscle fibres, intramuscular lipogenesis and collagen development were also evaluated. Modifications in mRNA expression of skeletal muscle of foetuses were observed in function of MN and FS despite the lack of effect of MN and FS on foetal weight at necropsy. Maternal ON increased the mRNA expression of the myogenic marker Cadherin-associated protein, beta 1 (CTNNB1) and adipogenic markers Peroxissome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) and Zinc finger protein 423 (ZNF423) at midgestation. However, no differences on foetal skeletal muscle development were observed between treatments at late gestation indicating that a compensatory development may have occurred on CO foetuses making the effect of MN on skeletal muscle development not significant at late gestation. Moreover, our data have shown an evidence of sexual dimorphism during foetal stage with a greater skeletal muscle development in male than in female foetuses. In conclusion, providing a higher nutritional level to pregnant cows changes the trajectory of the development of skeletal muscle during midgestation, but apparently does not change the potential of post-natal growth of muscle mass of the offspring, as no differences in skeletal muscle development were observed in late gestation.

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