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The hepatic and skeletal muscle ovine metabolomes as affected by weight loss: A study in three sheep breeds using NMR-metabolomics

Palma, M.; Scanlon, T.; Kilminster, T.; Milton, J.; Oldham, C.; Greeff, J.; Matzapetakis, M.; Almeida, A.M.

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Sheep are a valuable resource for meat and wool production. During the dry summer, pastures are scarce and animals face Seasonal Weight Loss (SWL), which decreases production yields. The study of breeds tolerant to SWL is important to understand the physiological mechanisms of tolerance to nutritional scarcity, and define breeding strategies. Merino, Damara and Dorper sheep breeds have been described as having different levels of tolerance to SWL. In this work, we assess their liver and muscle metabolomes, and compare the responses to feed restriction. Ram lambs from each breed were divided into growth and feed restricted groups, over 42 days. Tissue metabolomes were assessed by 1 H-NMR. The Dorper restricted group showed few changes in both tissues, suggesting higher tolerance to nutritional scarcity. The Merinos exhibited more differences between treatment groups. Major differences were related to fat and protein mobilization, and antioxidant activity. Between the Damara groups, the main differences were observed in amino acid composition in muscle and in energy-related pathways in the liver. Integration of present results and previous data on the same animals support the hypothesis that, Dorper and Damara breeds are more tolerant to SWL conditions and thus, more suitable breeds for harsh environmental conditions. © The Author(s) 2016.

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