Effects of foetal size, sex and developmental stage on adaptive transcriptional responses of skeletal muscle to intrauterine growth restriction in pigs

Yennifer Cortés Araya, S. Cheung, Will Ho, Claire Stenhouse, Cheryl Ashworth, Cristina Esteves, Xavier Donadeu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) occurs both in humans and domestic species. It has a particularly high incidence in pigs, and is a leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality as well as impaired postnatal growth. A key feature of IUGR is impaired muscle development, resulting in decreased meat quality. Understanding the developmental origins of IUGR, particularly at the
molecular level, is important for developing effective strategies to mitigate its economic impact on the pig industry and animal welfare. The aim of this study was to characterise transcriptional profiles in the muscle of growth restricted pig foetuses at different gestational stages (GD; gestational length ~ 115 days), focusing on selected genes (related to development, tissue injury and metabolism) that were previously identified as dysregulated in muscle of GD90 fetuses. Muscle samples were collected from the lightest foetus (L) and the sex-matched foetus with weight closest to the litter average (AW) from each of 22 Landrace x Large White litters corresponding to GD45 (n= 6), GD60 (n= 8) or GD90 (n= 8), followed by analyses, using RT-PCR and protein immunohistochemistry, of selected
gene targets. Expression of the developmental genes, MYOD, RET and ACTN3 were markedly lower, whereas MSTN expression was higher, in the muscle of L relative to AW littermates beginning on GD45. Levels of all tissue injury associated transcripts analysed (F5, PLG, KNG1, SELL, CCL16) were increased in L muscle on GD60 and, most prominently, on GD90. Among genes involved in metabolic
regulation, KLB was expressed at higher levels in L than AW littermates beginning on GD60, whereas both IGFBP1 and AHSG were higher in L littermates on GD90 but only in males. Furthermore, the expression of genes specifically involved in lipid, hexose sugar or iron metabolism increased or, in the case of UCP3, decreased in L littermates on GD60 (UCP3, APOB, ALDOB) or GD90 (PNPLA3, TF),
albeit in the case of ALDOB this only involved females. In conclusion, marked dysregulation of genes with critical roles in development in L foetuses can be observed from GD45, whereas for a majority of transcripts associated with tissue injury and metabolism differences between L and AW foetuses were apparent by GD60 or only at GD90, thus identifying different developmental windows for different types of adaptive responses to IUGR in the muscle of porcine foetuses
Original languageEnglish
Article number8500
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date11 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Myogenesis
  • Foetal development


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of foetal size, sex and developmental stage on adaptive transcriptional responses of skeletal muscle to intrauterine growth restriction in pigs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this