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Open AccessArticle

Transcriptome Analysis of the Effects of Fasting Caecotrophy on Hepatic Lipid Metabolism in New Zealand Rabbits

1
College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou 450046, China
2
Mammalian NutriPhysioGenomics, Department of Animal Sciences and Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL 61801, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this paper.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090648
Received: 24 July 2019 / Revised: 21 August 2019 / Accepted: 30 August 2019 / Published: 3 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disease and Immunology of Rabbits)
Caecotrophy in small herbivores, including rabbits, is the instinctive behavior of eating soft feces. Little is known about the impact of caecotrophy on growth and metabolism. In the present study, we used an Elizabeth circle to prevent rabbits from eating soft feces and measured changes in feed intake, body weight, internal organ weight, serum biochemical indices and liver lipid droplet accumulation. Liver tissue was also used for transcriptome sequencing. Results indicated that fasting caecotrophy decreased rabbit growth and lipid synthesis in the liver.
In order to investigate the effects of fasting caecotrophy on hepatic lipid metabolism in rabbits, 12 weaned female New Zealand white rabbits were randomly divided into (n = 6/group) a control and fasting caecotrophy group. Rabbits in the experimental group were treated with an Elizabeth circle to prevent them from eating their own soft feces for a 60-day period. Growth and blood biochemical indices, transcriptome sequencing and histology analysis of the liver were performed. Compared with the control group, final weight, weight gain, liver weight, growth rate and feed conversion ratio, all decreased in the experimental group (p < 0.05). RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis revealed a total of 301.2 million raw reads (approximately 45.06 Gb of high-quality clean data) that were mapped to the rabbit genome. After a five-step filtering process, 14,964 genes were identified, including 444 differentially expressed genes (p < 0.05, foldchange ≥ 1). A number of differently expressed genes linked to lipid metabolism were further analyzed including CYP7A1, SREBP, ABCA1, GPAM, CYP3A1, RBP4 and RDH5. The KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) annotation of the differentially expressed genes indicated that main pathways affected were pentose and glucuronide interactions, starch and sucrose metabolism, retinol metabolism and PPAR signaling. Overall, the present study revealed that preventing caecotrophy reduced growth and altered lipid metabolism, both of which will help guide the development of new approaches for rabbits’ feeding and production. These data also provide a reference for studying the effects of soft feces in other small herbivores. View Full-Text
Keywords: fasting caecotrophy; lipid metabolism; rabbits; transcriptome sequencing fasting caecotrophy; lipid metabolism; rabbits; transcriptome sequencing
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Wang, Y.; Xu, H.; Sun, G.; Xue, M.; Sun, S.; Huang, T.; Zhou, J.; Loor, J.J.; Li, M. Transcriptome Analysis of the Effects of Fasting Caecotrophy on Hepatic Lipid Metabolism in New Zealand Rabbits. Animals 2019, 9, 648.

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