In nonruminants, nutrition during pregnancy can program offspring development, metabolism, and health in later life. Rumen-protected Met (RPM) supplementation during the prepartum period improves liver function and immune response in dairy cows. Our aim was to investigate the effects of RPM during late pregnancy on blood biomarkers (23 targets) and the liver transcriptome (24 genes) in neonatal calves from cows fed RPM at 0.08% of diet dry matter/d (MET) for the last 21 d before calving or controls (CON). Blood (n=12 calves per diet) was collected at birth before receiving colostrum (baseline), 24 h after receiving colostrum, 14, 28, and 50 d (post-weaning) of age. Liver was sampled (n=8 calves per diet) via biopsy on d 4, 14, 28, and 50 of age. Growth and health were not affected by maternal diet. The MET calves had greater overall plasma insulin concentration and lower glucose and ratios of glucose-to-insulin and fatty acids-to-insulin, indicating greater systemic insulin sensitivity. Lower concentration of reactive oxygen metabolites at 14 d of age along with a tendency for lower overall concentration of ceruloplasmin in MET calves indicated a lesser degree of stress. Greater expression on d 4 of fructose-bisphosphatase 1 (FBP1), phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 1 (PCK1), and the facilitated bidirectional glucose transporter SLC2A2 in MET calves indicated alterations in gluconeogenesis and glucose uptake and release. The data agree with the greater expression of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Greater expression on d 4 of the insulin receptor (INSR) and insulin-responsive serine/threonine-protein kinase (AKT2) in MET calves indicated alterations in insulin signaling. In that context, the similar expression of sterol regulatory element-binding transcription factor 1 (SREBF1) in CON and MET during the preweaning period followed by the marked upregulation regardless of diet after weaning (d 50) support the idea of changes in hepatic insulin sensitivity during early postnatal life. Expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) was overall greater and acyl-CoA oxidase 1 (ACOX1) was lower in MET calves, indicating alterations in fatty acid oxidation. Except forkhead box O1 (FOXO1), all genes changed in expression over time. Transcriptome results indicated that calves from MET-supplemented cows underwent a faster maturation of gluconeogenesis and fatty acid oxidation in the liver, which would be advantageous for adapting to the metabolic demands of extrauterine life.
- methyl donors
- nutritional programming