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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Effects of maternal plasmid GHRH treatment on offspring growth

item Khan, Amir
item Bodles-brakhop, Angela
item Fiorotto, Marta
item Draghia-akli, Ruxandra

Submitted to: Vaccine
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/5/2010
Publication Date: 2/23/2010
Publication URL:
Citation: Khan, A.S., Bodles-Brakhop, A.M., Fiorotto, M.L. Draghia-Akli, R. 2010. Effects of maternal plasmid GHRH treatment on offspring growth. Vaccine. 28(8):1905-1910.

Interpretive Summary: More information is needed to better understand the role of hormones during pregnancy and its impact on the fetus. We have previously shown that if we administer a growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) to pregnant sows, more of their offspring survive and they grow better than piglets from untreated sows. In this study, we wanted to determine if this happens because of the effects to the sow or to the offspring. The results showed that the GHRH plasmid treatment resulted in improvements in fetal intra-uterine growth, the lactation performance of the sows, and the health and growth of their piglets upon birth. Moreover, the growth benefit to the piglets was retained into adulthood. Such research provides insight into possible usage for human therapies.

Technical Abstract: To differentiate prenatal effects of plasmid growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) treatment from maternal effects mediated by lactation on long-term growth of offspring, a cross-fostering study was designed. Pregnant sows (n = 12) were untreated (n = 6), or received either a Wt-GHRH (n = 2), or HV-GHRH (n = 4) plasmid. At birth, half of each litter was cross-fostered (treated to controls and controls to treat only). Piglets from plasmid-injected sows were heavier at birth (HV-GHRH, 1.65 +/- 0.07 kg; Wt-GHRH, 1.46 +/- 0.05 kg vs. Controls, 1.27 +/- 0.03 kg; P = 0.001), and at weaning (Wt-GHRH, 6.01 +/- 0.21 kg and HV-GHRH, 6.34 +/- 0.15 kg vs. Controls, 5.37 +/- 0.14 kg; P = 0.02, respectively). Control piglets cross-fostered to plasmid-injected sows grew faster to weaning (Wt-GHRH, 5.61 +/- 0.15 kg and HV-GHRH, 5.70 +/- 0.29 kg vs. Controls, 5.08 +/- 0.22 kg; P > 0.05, respectively). Piglets from plasmid-injected sows that suckled on control sows were larger than control piglets on control sows (Wt-GHRH, 5.93 +/- 0.20 kg and HV-GHRH, 6.2 +/- 0.19 kg vs. Controls, 5.08 +/- 0.22 kg; P > 0.05, respectively), but smaller than their littermates left on their treated mothers. The observed improvements were maintained until the end of the study when the offspring were 170-day-old. The results suggest that the improved growth of offspring of GHRH plasmid-treated sows pre-weaning is attributable to improved maternal performance, while after weaning the effects on the pituitary component are relevant.

Last Modified: 07/25/2017
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