Comparison of serum metabolite compositions between obese and lean growing pigs using an NMR-based metabonomic approach

J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Feb;23(2):133-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.11.007. Epub 2011 Mar 22.


Childhood obesity has become a prevalent risk to health of children and teenagers. To develop biomarkers in serum for altered lipid metabolism, genetically obese (Ningxiang strain) and lean (Duroc×Landrace×Large Yorkshire strain) growing pigs were used as models to identify potential differences in the serum metabonome between the two strains of pigs after consuming the same diet for 46 days. At the end of the study, pigs were euthanized for analysis of the serum metabonome and determination of body composition. Obese pigs had higher fat mass (42.3±8.8% vs. 21.9±4.5%) and lower muscle mass (35.4±4.5% vs. 58.9±2.5%) than lean pigs (P<.01). Serum concentrations of insulin and glucagon were higher (P<.02) in obese than in lean pigs. With the use of an NMR-based metabonomic technology, orthogonal projection to latent structure with discriminant analysis showed that serum HDL, VLDL, lipids, unsaturated lipids, glycoprotein, myo-inositol, pyruvate, threonine, tyrosine and creatine were higher in obese than in lean pigs (P<.05), while serum glucose and urea were lower in obese pigs (P<.05). In addition, changes in gut microbiota-related metabolites, including trimethylamine-N-oxide and choline, were observed in sera of obese pigs relatively to lean pigs (P<.05). These novel findings indicate that obese pigs have distinct metabolism, including lipogenesis, lipid oxidation, energy utilization and partition, protein and amino acid metabolism, and fermentation of gastrointestinal microbes, compared with lean pigs. The obese Ningxiang pig may be a useful model for childhood obesity research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Composition
  • Choline / blood
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Metabolomics
  • Methylamines / blood
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Swine / blood*
  • Swine / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL
  • Methylamines
  • Glucagon
  • trimethyloxamine
  • Choline