Monitoring blood plasma leptin and lactogenic hormones in pregnant sows.
Highly prolific sows often experience peripartum hypophagia, resulting in decreased production rate. Leptin, ghrelin, and resistin are known as feed intake-regulating hormones in many species, but it is yet unknown how feeding strategy and body condition will affect these hormones around parturition in sows. In the present study, a total of 63 sows, parity 2 to 7 were divided over 2 treatment groups which were fed either restricted (RESTRICT) or ad libitum (ADLIB) during the peripartum period (day 106 of gestation until day 7 of lactation). Within each treatment group, sows were assigned to 1 of 3 body condition groups based on back fat thickness at day 106 of gestation: <18 mm (LEAN), between 18 and 22 mm (MODERATE), and >22 mm (FAT). Postprandial blood samples were taken on days 107, 109, and 112 of gestation and on days 1, 3, and 5 of lactation. With RIA, leptin, ghrelin, and resistin of each sample were analyzed. For both leptin and resistin, the hormonal profile gradually increased throughout the peripartum period (P < 0.001), whereas ghrelin peaked on day 109 of gestation compared with day 107 of gestation and day 1 of lactation. Other time points were intermediate between those two (P < 0.001). The peripartum profile of leptin was significantly higher for FAT sows than for the 2 other condition groups. No effect of body condition on ghrelin and resistin concentrations was observed. None of the 3 measured hormones were affected by feeding strategy. In conclusion, during the peripartum period feed intake of sows did not affect leptin, ghrelin, or resistin profiles. Leptin was the only hormone investigated that reflected body condition. Although body condition and late gestation feed intake have been previously described as risk factors for peripartum hypophagia, they did not induce hypophagia in any of the sows or affect the profile of the observed feed intake-regulating hormones during the peripartum period.