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Effects of pregnancy and short-lasting acute feed restriction on total ghrelin concentration and metabolic parameters in dairy cattle

Chouzouris, Thomas Markos, Dovolou, Eleni, Georgoulias, Panagiotis, Rekkas, Alexandros, Dafopoulos, Konstantinos, Athanasiou, Lambrini, Fthenakis, George C., Amiridis, Georgios S.
Theriogenology 2018 v.106 pp. 141-148
blood sampling, cortisol, cows, dairy cattle, free fatty acids, ghrelin, glucose, group effect, heifers, hunger, insulin, lactating females, lactation, pregnancy, restricted feeding, satiety
The aims of this study were: to compare total ghrelin concentration throughout pregnancy between lactating cows and heifers, and to study the response to acute feed restriction in pregnant or non-pregnant heifers. Blood samples were collected each month of pregnancy from cows (n = 5) and heifers (n = 5) and analyzed for total ghrelin concentration. Compared to pre-conception values, ghrelin concentrations tended to be greater during 3rd month of pregnancy in heifers, whereas they were higher in the 7th, 8th and 9th months in lactating cows, but no difference was detected between lactating cows and heifers. In experiment two, pregnant (n = 4) and non-pregnant (n = 4) heifers were fasted for 24 h. Blood samples were collected 0, 4, 8, 12, 16 and 24 h of fasting and were assayed for, insulin, glucose, cortisol, BHBA and NEFA concentrations, and at time points 0, 8, 16 and 24 for total ghrelin determination. Compared to satiety, ghrelin concentrations were higher at 8th, 16th and 24th hour of fasting in pregnant and at 8th hour in non-pregnant animals, but no difference was detected between pregnant and non-pregnant heifers. Pregnant heifers had lower glucose concentrations than non-pregnant ones. Insulin concentrations were reduced at 4 and 8 h of fasting in pregnant heifers, and stayed unaffected in non-pregnant ones. Cortisol concentrations increased after 4th hour and remained elevated throughout the sampling period in pregnant heifers, while they increased at 24th h in non-pregnant animals. Here, we provide evidence that total ghrelin concentrations rise in response to feed restriction. Albeit no group effect was evident, our results imply that a) during the last trimester of pregnancy total ghrelin is secreted in different pattern between lactating cows and heifers, b) pregnant animals are more responsive than non-pregnant ones to hunger induced stress.