Supplying omega-3 PUFA through diet supplementation to breeding sows during gestation and lactation may have relevant impact on their future reproductive performance, as some results have shown to benefit fetal development and subsequent litter size. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of supplementing weaned gilts with omega-3 PUFA from microalgae on their growth performance, metabolic markers, and gene expression of steroidogenic enzymes and hormone receptors. For this purpose, a total of 16 crossbred gilts (Landrace × Large White), were weaned (at 35.5 ± 1.6 d) and randomly allotted into 2 groups (n = 8): a control group, fed with commercial non-supplemented diets; and omega-3 group, fed with the same diets plus 25 g/d of the microalgae Schizochytium sp. (3.5 g/d of omega-3 PUFA). The trial was performed for 52 days. Gilts were weighted weekly and blood samples were collected on days 0, 21, and 52. In the end, all gilts were slaughtered at a commercial abattoir with 87.5 ± 1.6 d of age and both ovaries were collected for subsequent analysis.
Total serum cholesterol levels were lower for the omega-3 group than for the control group, but high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels were reduced at day 52 for both groups. Gilts in the omega-3 group presented lower feed intake, better feed conversion ratio, and less-intense immunolabeling for leptin and its receptor in the cytoplasm of oocytes included in primordial/primary follicles than gilts in the control group. The expression of genes coding for cholesterol side-chain cleavage and aromatase enzymes and the LH receptor in follicular cells was lower for supplemented gilts.
Potential effects of supplementing gilts with omega-3 PUFA from microalgae during 52 days after weaning appeared to be driven toward growth performance and metabolic status, as feed conversion was improved and serum cholesterol levels were decreased.
Otte, M. V., Moreira, F., Bianchi, I., Oliveira Jr, J., Mendes, R. E., Haas, C. S., Anciuti, A. N., Rovani, M. T., Gasperin, B. G., and Lucia Jr, T. (2018). Effects of supplying omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to gilts after weaning on metabolism and ovarian gene expression. Journal of animal science, 97(1), 374-384. https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/sky419