Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Porcine adaptation to heat stress



Image of domestic pigs by 京浜にけ via ja.wikipedia [GFDL (

A new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored the effects of modest heat stress (35°C, 95°F) on the physiology of pigs. The found that pigs exposed to heat stress ate less than those exposed to ambient temperatures. I understand. I eat less when it is hot outside too.

Since skeletal muscle is such a large metabolically active tissue, things that alter muscle metabolism could lead to changes in circulating levels of metabolites in the body. To examine muscle metabolism, the team obtained muscle biopsies (Longissimus dorsi) and  found reduced fatty acid and glucose metabolism in heat stressed pigs. These findings show that heat stress can directly impact muscle metabolism, which may contribute to changes in overall metabolite availability in the animals. They also found higher levels of liver enzymes suggesting the heat-exposed animals may have developed liver dysfunction.


Zhao L, McMillan RP, Xie G, Giridhar SGLW, Baumgard LH, El-Kadi S, Selsby J, Ross J, Gabler N, Hulver MW, Rhoads RP. Heat stress decreases metabolic flexibility in skeletal muscle of growing pigs. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. [Epub ahead of print].


Categories: Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Livestock, Climate Change, Environment, Stress

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