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Review Paper
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2001;14(5): 720-732.
https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2001.720    Published online May 1, 2001.
Manipulation of Tissue Energy Metabolism in Meat-Producing Ruminants - Review -
J. F. Hocquette, Isabelle Ortigues-Marty, M. Vermorel
Skeletal muscle is of major economic importance since it is finally converted to meat for consumers. The increase in meat production with low costs of production may be achieved by optimizing muscle growth, whereas a high meat quality requires, among other factors, the optimization of intramuscular glycogen and fat stores. Thus, research in energy metabolism aims at controling muscle metabolism, but also liver and adipose tissue metabolism in order to optimize energy partitioning in favour of muscles. Liver is characterized by high anabolic and catabolic rates. Metabolic enzymes are regulated by nutrients through short-term regulation of their activities and long-term regulation of expression of their genes. Consequences of liver metabolic regulation on energy supply to muscles may affect protein deposition (and hence growth) as well as intramuscular energy stores. Adipose tissues are important body reserves of triglycerides, which result from the balance between lipogenesis and lipolysis. Both processes depend on the feeding level and on the nature of nutrients, which indirectly affect energy delivery to muscles. In muscles, the regulation of rate-limiting nutrient transporters, of metabolic enzyme activities and of ATP production, as well as the interactions between nutrients affect free energy availability for muscle growth and modify muscle metabolic characteristics which determine meat quality. The growth of tissues and organs, the number and the characteristics of muscle fibers depend, for a great part, on early events during the fetal life. They include variations in quantitative and qualitative nutrient supply to the fetus, and hence in maternal nutrition. During the postnatal life, muscle growth and characteristics are affected by the age and the genetic type of the animals, the feeding level and the diet composition. The latter determines the nature of available nutrients and the rate of nutrient delivery to tissues, thereby regulating metabolism. Physical activity at pasture also favours the orientation of muscle metabolism, towards the oxidative type. Consequently, breeding systems may be of a great importance during the postnatal life. Research is now directed towards the determination of individual tissue and organ energy requirements, a better knowledge of nutrient partitioning between and within organs and tissues. The discovery of new molecules (e. g. leptin), of new molecular mechanisms and of more powerful techniques (DNA chips) will help to achieve these objectives. The integration of the different levels of knowledge will finally allow scientists to formulate new types of diets adapted to sustain a production of high quality meat with lower costs of production.
Keywords: Energy Metabolism; Tissue; Manipulation; Ruminants; Meat

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