Role of AMPK signalling pathway during compensatory growth in pigs.

M Ballester, M Amills, O González-Rodríguez, TF Cardoso, M Pascual, R González-Prendes, N Panella-Riera, I Díaz, J Tibau, R. Quintanilla

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6 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 The Author(s). Background: The molecular basis of compensatory growth in monogastric animals has not yet been fully explored. Herewith, in this study we aim to determine changes in the pig skeletal muscle transcriptome profile during compensatory growth following a feed restriction period. A RNA-Seq experiment was performed with a total of 24 females belonging to a Duroc commercial line. Half of the animals received either a restricted (RE) or ad libitum (AL) diet during the first fattening period (60-125 d of age). After that, all gilts were fed ad libitum for a further ~30 d until the age of ~155 d, when animals were slaughtered and samples of gluteus medius muscle were harvested to perform RNA-Seq analyses and intramuscular fat content determination. Results: During the period following food restriction, RE animals re-fed ad libitum displayed compensatory growth, showed better feed conversion rate and tended to deposit more subcutaneous fat than AL fed animals. Animals were slaughtered in the phase of accelerated growth, when RE animals had not completely compensated the performance of AL group, showing lower live and carcass weights. At intramuscular level, RE gilts showed a higher content of polyunsaturated fatty acids during the compensatory growth phase. The comparison of RE and AL expression profiles allowed the identification of 86 (log2Fold-Change > 1, padj < 0.05) differentially expressed (DE) genes. A functional categorization of these DE genes identified AMPK Signaling as the most significantly enriched canonical pathway. This kinase plays a key role in the maintenance of energy homeostasis as well as in the activation of autophagy. Among the DE genes identified as components of AMPK Signaling pathway, five out of six genes were downregulated in RE pigs. Conclusions: Animals re-fed after a restriction period exhibited a less oxidative metabolic profile and catabolic processes in muscle than animals fed ad libitum. The downregulation of autophagy observed in the skeletal muscle of pigs undergoing compensatory growth may constitute a mechanism to increase muscle mass thus ensuring an accelerated growth rate. These results reveal that the downregulation of AMPK Signaling plays an important role in compensatory growth in pigs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number682
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2018


  • AMPK
  • Autophagy
  • Compensatory growth
  • Energy homeostasis
  • Feed restriction
  • Pig
  • RNA-Seq
  • Skeletal muscle


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