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Frontiers of Agriculture in China

ISSN 1673-7334

ISSN 1673-744X(Online)

CN 11-5729/S

Front Agric Chin    2010, Vol. 4 Issue (4) : 494-500     DOI: 10.1007/s11703-010-1047-1
Effects of folic acid supplementation on growth performance and hepatic folate metabolism-related gene expressions in weaned piglets
Bing YU1,2, Guangbo YANG1,2, Jingbo LIU1,2, Daiwen CHEN1,2()
1. Key Laboratory for Animal Nutrition of Disease Resistance, Ya’an 625014, China; 2. Animal Nutrition Institute, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an 625014, China
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The present study was conducted to evaluate the effects of different folic acid supplemental levels on growth performance, serum biochemical indicators, and hepatic folate metabolism-related gene expressions in weaned piglets. There were 160 piglets with initially average bodyweight of 7.33 kg randomly assigned to diets containing five levels of folic acid: basal diets (C), 0.5 mg·kg-1 folic acid (FS 0.5), 2.5 mg·kg-1 folic acid (FS 2.5), 5.0 mg·kg-1 folic acid (FS 5.0), or 10.0 mg·kg-1 folic acid (FS 10.0). Blood samples were collected from a subset (n = 20; 4 pigs per treatment) of the piglets on day 0, 14, and 28. Liver samples were collected from the blood-taken piglets on day 28 of the experiment. Pigs fed basal diet supplemented with 2.5 mg·kg-1 folic acid grew faster (P<0.05) and consumed more feed (P<0.01) than groups of C, FS 5.0, and FS 10.0 during the last two weeks. Dietary treatment had no effect on F/G throughout the experiment. Pigs in the FS 2.5 group showed greater concentrations of Growth Hormone (GH) (P<0.05) and Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGF-1) (P<0.01) in serum than C and FS 10.0 on day 28. RT-PCR analysis revealed that FS 0.5, FS 2.5, and FS 5.0 had a greater abundance of the mRNA encoding 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase than C and FS 10.0 (P<0.01). The mRNA expressions of folate binding protein in FS 0.5 and FS 2.5 were upregulated compared with pigs fed with basal diet (P<0.05). These results demonstrated that folate supplemental level of 2.5 mg·kg-1 significantly enhanced the growth performance of piglets. Folic acid had an impact on folate metabolism and the homocysteine concentrations. No folate supplementation or folate supplemental level of 10 mg·kg-1 could not increase the growth performance to the greatest degree.

Keywords folic acid      growth performance      folate binding protein (FOLBP)      5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR)      piglets     
Corresponding Authors: CHEN Daiwen,   
Issue Date: 05 December 2010
URL:     OR
itemphase 1 (week 1-2)phase 2 (week 3-4)
soybean oil4.254.10
extruded soybean13.0017.00
fish meal4.504.00
plasma protein6.003.00
fermented soybean meal4.205.00
vitamin-mineral premix11.001.00
sodium chloride0.460.32
dicalcium phosphate0.700.70
whey powder15.009.00
white sugar3.002.00
L-lysine HCl0.470.30
zinc oxide0.300.30
calculated analysis/%
crude protein20.0618.99
metabolic energy/ Mcal·kg-13.3983.399
total P0.590.58
available P0.420.39
methionine+ cystine0.800.67
folic acid (determined)0.48/mg·kg-10.41/mg·kg-1
Tab.1  Composition and nutrient levels of basal diets (air-dry basis, %)
geneprimer sequences (5′-3′)annealing temperature/°Cproduct Tmproduct size/bpGenBank accession no.
Tab.2  Primers used for PCR and nested PCR for detection of , , and position on cDNA
itemlevels of folic acid
1CFS 0.5FS 2.5FS 5.0FS 10.0
Phase 1242.63±20.79243.30±18.07263.62±20.06245.98±29.89242.97±15.32
Phase 2459.26±41.05b487.72±25.57ab522.32±16.03a463.39±39.34b461.50±22.94b
week 1 to 4350.95±27.21b365.51±21.08ab392.97±21.32a354.69±28.88ab352.23±11.45b
Phase 1314.82±23.26315.87±9.21325.04±29.60308.92±28.40309.37±9.15
Phase 2692.08±39.89c717.44±21.73ac761.98±22.46a694.02±47.99c693.08±19.19c
week 1 to 4503.45±29.46516.66±14.73543.51±21.77501.47±37.83501.22±29.72
feed:gain/ g/g
Phase 11.29±0.121.30±0.071.24±0.041.26±0.041.28±0.05
Phase 21.51±0.051.47±0.041.46±0.031.50±0.071.50±0.04
week 1 to 41.44±0.041.42±0.051.38±0.031.42±0.051.43±0.03
week 417.147±1.3917.559±1.1518.328±1.7817.263±1.6917.223±1.38
Tab.3  Effects of different levels of dietary folic acid on growth performance of weaned pigs
itemlevels of folic acid
CFS 0.5FS 2.5FS 5.0FS 10.0
days of postweaning
days of postweaning
days of postweaning
days of postweaning
alkaline phosphatase/U·L-1
days of postweaning
Tab.4  Effects of levels of folate on serum biochemical indicators of weanling pigs
Fig.1  Serum folic acid concentrations in piglets in response to different folate supplemental levels
Fig.2  Serum homocysteine concentrations in piglets in response to different folate supplemental levels
Fig.3  Effect of folate supplemental levels on the relative expression of gene in livers of piglets
Note: The transcript expression level of was higher (<0.05) in FS 0.5 and FS 2.5 than C. Data are presented in mean±SD. Different small letters denote statistical differences between groups (<0.05).
Fig.4  Effect of folate supplemental levels on the relative expression of gene in livers of piglets
Note: Higher (<0.01) expression was observed in FS 0.5, FS 2.5, and FS 5.0 than C and FS 10.0. Data are presented in mean±SD. Different small letters denote statistical differences between groups (<0.05).
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