Anabolic signaling and protein deposition are enhanced by intermittent compared with continuous feeding in skeletal muscle of neonates

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Mar 15;302(6):E674-86. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00516.2011. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


Orogastric tube feeding is indicated for neonates with impaired ability to ingest and can be administered by intermittent bolus or continuous schedule. Our aim was to determine whether feeding modalities affect muscle protein deposition and to identify mechanisms involved. Neonatal pigs were overnight fasted (FAS) or fed the same amount of food continuously (CON) or intermittently (INT; 7 × 4 h meals) for 29 h. For 8 h, between hours 20 and 28, pigs were infused with [(2)H(5)]phenylalanine and [(2)H(2)]tyrosine, and amino acid (AA) net balances were measured across the hindquarters. Insulin, branched-chain AA, phenylalanine, and tyrosine arterial concentrations and whole body phenylalanine and tyrosine fluxes were greater for INT after the meal than for CON or FAS. The activation of signaling proteins leading to initiation of mRNA translation, including eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)4E·eIF4G complex formation in muscle, was enhanced by INT compared with CON feeding or FAS. Signaling proteins of protein degradation were not affected by feeding modalities except for microtubule-associated protein light chain 3-II, which was highest in the FAS. Across the hindquarters, AA net removal increased for INT but not for CON or FAS, with protein deposition greater for INT. This was because protein synthesis increased following feeding for INT but remained unchanged for CON and FAS, whereas there was no change in protein degradation across any dietary treatment. These results suggest that muscle protein accretion in neonates is enhanced with intermittent bolus to a greater extent than continuous feeding, mainly by increased protein synthesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Diet
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / metabolism
  • Fasting / physiology
  • Female
  • Hindlimb / anatomy & histology
  • Hydroxylation
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Metabolism / physiology*
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phenylalanine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Swine
  • Time Factors
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Blood Glucose
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E
  • Insulin
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine