Effects of colostrum feeding and glucocorticoid administration on insulin-dependent glucose metabolism in neonatal calves

Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2006 Oct;31(3):227-45. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2005.11.004. Epub 2005 Dec 5.


Colostrum feeding and glucocorticoid administration affect glucose metabolism and insulin release in calves. We have tested the hypothesis that dexamethasone as well as colostrum feeding influence insulin-dependent glucose metabolism in neonatal calves using the euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp technique. Newborn calves were fed either colostrum or a milk-based formula (n=14 per group) and in each feeding group, half of the calves were treated with dexamethasone (30 microg/[kg body weight per day]). Preprandial blood samples were taken on days 1, 2, and 4. On day 5, insulin was infused for 3h and plasma glucose concentrations were kept at 5 mmol/L+/-10%. Clamps were combined with [(13)C]-bicarbonate and [6,6-(2)H]-glucose infusions for 5.5h (i.e., from -150 to 180 min, relative to insulin infusion) to determine glucose turnover, glucose appearance rate (Ra), endogenous glucose production (eGP), and gluconeogenesis before and at the end of the clamp. After the clamp liver biopsies were taken to measure mRNA levels of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) and pyruvate carboxylase (PC). Dexamethasone increased plasma glucose, insulin, and glucagon concentrations in the pre-clamp period thus necessitating a reduction in the rate of glucose infusion to maintain euglycemia during the clamp. Glucose turnover and Ra increased during the clamp and were lower at the end of the clamp in dexamethasone-treated calves. Dexamethasone treatment did not affect basal gluconeogenesis or eGP. At the end of the clamp, dexamethasone reduced eGP and PC mRNA levels, whereas mitochondrial PEPCK mRNA levels increased. In conclusion, insulin increased glucose turnover and dexamethasone impaired insulin-dependent glucose metabolism, and this was independent of different feeding.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cattle / blood
  • Cattle / metabolism*
  • Colostrum / metabolism*
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique / veterinary
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (ATP) / biosynthesis
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (ATP) / genetics
  • Pyruvate Carboxylase / biosynthesis
  • Pyruvate Carboxylase / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Urea / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Insulin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Lactic Acid
  • Dexamethasone
  • Urea
  • Glucagon
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (ATP)
  • Pyruvate Carboxylase