We have used a porcine model of spontaneous differential fetal growth to investigate the effects of fetal size on muscle development. We hypothesized that altered muscle development may occur in small fetuses as a consequence of modified expression of selected genes of the insulin-like growth factor system. We examined the development of the Longissimus muscle (m. Longissimus) in small fetuses and their average sized littermates. We collected small for gestational age fetuses and their average sized sibling on days 45, 65 and 100 of gestation (term is 113-116 days). Small fetuses had significantly lower body weight at all three stages of gestation (p < 0.05) and significantly reduced secondary to primary muscle fibre ratio in m. Longissimus on day 100 (P < 0.05) compared to their littermates. On day 65, the expression of insulin-like growth factor receptor 1 and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in m. Longissimus of the small fetuses compared with their average sized littermates. On day 100, the expression of insulin-like growth factor receptor I remained significantly higher (p = 0.001), in addition to significantly higher levels of insulin-like growth factor receptor 2 and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 5 in the small fetuses (p < 0.05). No difference in levels of myogenin was observed between the small and average sized littermates. In conclusion, we demonstrate that reduced fetal muscle development is associated with an increased expression of several genes of the insulin-like growth factor system in small fetuses in mid to late gestation. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- growth retardation
- skeletal muscle