Substitution of starch for palm oil during gestation: Impact on offspring survival and hepatic gene expression in the pig

K.L. Almond, H.P. Fainberg, M.A. Lomax, P. Bikker, M.E. Symonds, A. Mostyn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Piglet neonatal mortality rates are high (∼20%), so nutritional strategies to reduce this are highly desirable. Maternal fat substitution (FS) may promote the preweaning survival of piglets by improving their energy status. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of FS throughout pregnancy on offspring viability, together with the gene expression of stress-related markers in the liver. Sixteen pregnant sows were randomly allocated to one of two isocaloric diets, control (C) or FS in the form of palm oil, fed from 0 to 110 days gestation. Glucose tolerance was examined on Day 108. Median and low birthweight offspring were allocated to tissue sampling at either 7 days or 6 months postnatal age. In response to a glucose tolerance test, FS sows exhibited a raised glucose area under the curve with no change in basal glucose. Average piglet mortality (up to Day 28) was increased fourfold in the FS group, with surviving median-sized piglets exhibiting significantly lower fatty acid binding protein 1 (FABP1) expression at 7 days. There were no effects on the abundance of any other stress- or metabolic-related genes examined. Thus, this study demonstrates that maternal FS throughout gestation causes maternal glucose intolerance that may be linked to the observed increase in piglet mortality. However, the surviving offspring do not exhibit any detectable differences in postnatal growth or hepatic gene profile in later life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1064
Number of pages8
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • development
  • liver
  • nutrition
  • pregnancy


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