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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Perinatal Ontogeny of Brain Growth in the Domestic Pig

Authors
item Pond, Wilson - BAYLOR COLL OF MEDICINE
item Boleman, S - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Fiorotto, Marta
item Ho, H - BAYLOR COLL OF MEDICINE
item Knabe, D - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Mersmann, Harry
item Savell, John - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Su, D - BAYLOR COLL OF MEDICINE

Submitted to: Society Of Experimental Biological Medicine Proceedings
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 29, 1999
Publication Date: January 1, 2000

Interpretive Summary: It is important to understand the growth of the central nervous system in order to understand the effects of the nutrition of the fetus and newborn on later physical and mental development. We studied the growth of the cerebrum in the piglet from the third trimester of prenatal life through the first few weeks of postnatal life. We took cerebra collected from fetuses and suckling-age piglets and performed a number of tests on the tissue. Our data showed a major growth spurt of the cerebrum at 90 days, followed by a lesser spurt at 130 days (prenatal and postnatal growth, respectively). The cerebellum had its first growth spurt at 110 days, and a second spurt at 140 days. Our data define normal growth patterns of pig brain associated with specific schedules of growth velocity for cell multiplication, protein and cholesterol accretion. This information suggests specific periods of vulnerability to nutritional problems (such as sdeficiencies) during fetal and newborn life, and the crucial importance of an adequate supply of cholesterol at this time. The piglet brain has many commonalities with the human brain, far more so than other species. Therefore, the pig is likely to be a useful model animal in research oriented toward evaluating the effects of the diet on brain growth and development, especially the effects of negative influences like nutritional deprivation, during various phases of the perinatal period.

Technical Abstract: The perinatal development of the brain is highlighted by a growth spurt whose timing varies among species. The growth of the porcine cerebrum was investigated from the third trimester of gestation (70 d postconception) through the first 3.5 wk of postnatal life (140 d postconception). The shape of the growth curves for cerebrum weight, total protein mass, total cell number (estimated by DNA content), and myelination (estimated by cholesterol accretion) were described. The growth velocity of cerebrum weight had two peaks, one at 90 d and the other at 130 d postconception. The growth velocity for total protein was greatest from 90 to 130 d postconception. The growth velocity for total DNA was greatest between 90 and 100 d and again at 130 d postconception. The growth velocity for total cholesterol continued to increase during the entire period suggesting that myelination continued after the growth spurts for cells (protein and DNA). The growth velocity patterns observed in these contemporary pigs suggest this species may be an appropriate model for human brain development, not only in the perinatal pattern of increase in mass of the cerebrum, as established previously, but also in regard to the patterns of cellular development and myelination.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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