Interpretive Summary: Characterization of body composition and liver epigenetic markers during periods of negative energy balance and subsequent compensatory growth in postpubertal beef bulls
By: Felipe H. Moura, Mozart A. Fonseca, Arturo Macias-Franco, Evandro C. Archilia, Isadora M. Batalha, Camilo A. Pena-Bello, Aghata E. M. Silva, Gabriel M. Moreira, Luis F. Schütz, and Aaron B. Norris
Epigenetics refers to heritable modifications that regulate gene expression without altering DNA sequence, hence, acting on top of the genes. Epigenetic markers change in response to stressors such as environmental factors, nutritional challenges, among other overlooked players that altogether could drastically impair animal performance. During periods of undernourishment followed by fast weight gain, dynamic changes in body composition, especially fat, appear to trigger an increased action of such physiological markers that modulate hepatic gene expression. Findings of this study unveil epigenetic metabolic pathways that deserve further investigation for proper quantification of potential consequences of metabolic stress on the liver of bovines that suffer significant loss of body weight followed by recovery. The alterations at the molecular level shown in this study provide a picture of silent metabolic changes that have not been detected previously in liver metabolism studies of cattle. Therefore, the impact of nutritional management and metabolic stress may be greater than previously expected and differently controlled than previously assumed.
Read the full article on the Journal of Animal Science.