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J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2012 Jul;13(7):567-78. doi: 10.1631/jzus.B1100343.

Response to weaning and dietary L-glutamine supplementation: metabolomic analysis in piglets by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.

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College of Animal Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.


A novel metabolomic method based on gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was applied to determine the metabolites in the serum of piglets in response to weaning and dietary L-glutamine (Gln) supplementation. Thirty-six 21-d-old piglets were randomly assigned into three groups. One group continued to suckle from the sows (suckling group), whereas the other two groups were weaned and their diets were supplemented with 1% (w/w) Gln or isonitrogenous L-alanine, respectively, representing Gln group or control group. Serum samples were collected to characterize metabolites after a 7-d treatment. Results showed that twenty metabolites were down-regulated significantly (P<0.05) in control piglets compared with suckling ones. These data demonstrated that early weaning causes a wide range of metabolic changes across arginine and proline metabolism, aminosugar and nucleotide metabolism, galactose metabolism, glycerophospholipid metabolism, biosynthesis of unsaturated fatty acid, and fatty acid metabolism. Dietary Gln supplementation increased the levels of creatinine, D-xylose, 2-hydroxybutyric acid, palmitelaidic acid, and α-L-galactofuranose (P<0.05) in early weaned piglets, and were involved in the arginine and proline metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, and fatty acid metabolism. A leave-one-out cross-validation of random forest analysis indicated that creatinine was the most important metabolite among the three groups. Notably, the concentration of creatinine in control piglets was decreased (P=0.00001) compared to the suckling piglets, and increased (P=0.0003) in Gln-supplemented piglets. A correlation network for weaned and suckling piglets revealed that early weaning changed the metabolic pathways, leading to the abnormality of carbohydrate metabolism, amino acid metabolism, and lipid metabolism, which could be partially improved by dietary Gln supplementation. These findings provide fresh insight into the complex metabolic changes in response to early weaning and dietary Gln supplementation in piglets.

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