Insulin sensitivity in calves decreases substantially during the first 3 months of life and is unaffected by weaning or fructo-oligosaccharide supplementation

A.J. Pantophlet, M.S. Gilbert, J.J.G.C. van den Borne, W.J.J. Gerrits, M.G. Priebe, R.J. Vonk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Veal calves at the age of 4 to 6 mo often experience problems with glucose homeostasis, as indicated by postprandial hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance. It is not clear to what extent the ontogenetic development of calves or the feeding strategy [e.g., prolonged milk replacer (MR) feeding] contribute to this pathology. The objective of this study was therefore to analyze effects of MR feeding, weaning, and supplementation of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) on the development of glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in calves during the first 3 mo of life. Thirty male Holstein-Friesian calves (18 ± 0.7 d of age) were assigned to 1 of 3 dietary treatments: the control (CON) group received MR only, the FOS group received MR with the addition of short-chain FOS, and the solid feed (SF) group was progressively weaned to SF. The CON and FOS calves received an amount of MR, which gradually increased (from 400 to 1,400 g/d) during the 71-d trial period. For the SF calves, the amount of MR increased from 400 to 850 g/d at d 30, and then gradually decreased, until completely weaned to only SF at d 63. The change in whole body insulin sensitivity was assessed by intravenous glucose tolerance tests. Milk tolerance tests were performed twice to assess changes in postprandial blood glucose, insulin, and nonesterified fatty acid responses. Whole-body insulin sensitivity was high at the start (16.7 ± 1.6 × 10−4 [μU/mL]−1), but decreased with age to 4.2 ± 0.6 × 10−4 [μU/mL]−1 at the end of the trial. The decrease in insulin sensitivity was most pronounced (∼70%) between d 8 and 29 of the trial. Dietary treatments did not affect the decrease in insulin sensitivity. For CON and FOS calves, the postprandial insulin response was 3-fold higher at the end of the trial than at the start, whereas the glucose response remained similar. The SF calves, however, showed pronounced hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia at the end of the trial, although weaning did not affect insulin sensitivity. We conclude that whole body insulin sensitivity decreases by 75% in calves during the first 3 mo of life. Weaning or supplementation of short-chain FOS does not affect this age-related decline in insulin sensitivity. Glucose homeostasis is not affected by supplementation of short-chain FOS in young calves, whereas postprandial responses of glucose and insulin to a MR meal strongly increase after weaning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7602-7611
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume99
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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