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J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Nov 25;63(46):10152-60. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b04418. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

Maternal Betaine Supplementation during Gestation Enhances Expression of mtDNA-Encoded Genes through D-Loop DNA Hypomethylation in the Skeletal Muscle of Newborn Piglets.

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Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, College of Veterinary Medicine, Nanjing Agricultural University , Nanjing, Jiangsu 210095, People's Republic of China.


Betaine has been widely used in animal and human nutrition to promote muscle growth and performance, yet it remains unknown whether maternal betaine supplementation during gestation affects the metabolic characteristics of neonatal skeletal muscles. In the present study, feeding sows with betaine-supplemented diets throughout gestation significantly upregulated the expression of mtDNA-encoded OXPHOS genes (p < 0.05), including COX1, COX2, and ND5, in the muscle of newborn piglets, which was associated with enhanced mitochondrial COX enzyme activity (p < 0.05). Concurrently, maternal betaine supplementation increased the plasma betaine concentration and muscle expression of methyl transfer enzymes (p < 0.05), BHMT and GNMT, in offspring piglets. Nevertheless, Dnmt3a was downregulated at the level of both mRNA and protein, which was associated with a hypomethylated mtDNA D-loop region (p < 0.05). These results suggest that maternal betaine supplementation during gestation enhances expression of mtDNA-encoded genes through D-loop DNA hypomethylation in the skeletal muscle of newborn piglets.


betaine; hypomethylation; mtDNA-encoded gene; piglets; skeletal muscle

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