Journal of animal science

In utero heat stress increases postnatal core body temperature in pigs.

PMID 26440331


In utero heat stress (IUHS) negatively impacts postnatal development, but how it alters future body temperature parameters and energetic metabolism is not well understood. Future body temperature indices and bioenergetic markers were characterized in pigs from differing in utero thermal environments during postnatal thermoneutral (TN) and cyclical heat stress (HS) exposure. First-parity pregnant gilts ( = 13) were exposed to 1 of 4 ambient temperature (T) treatments (HS [cyclic 28°C to 34°C] or TN [cyclic 18°C to 22°C]) applied for the entire gestation (HSHS, TNTN), HS for the first half of gestation (HSTN), or HS for the second half of gestation (TNHS). Twenty-four offspring (23.1 ± 1.2 kg BW; = 6 HSHS, = 6 TNTN, = 6 HSTN, = 6 TNHS) were housed in TN (21.7°C ± 0.7°C) conditions and then exposed to 2 separate but similar HS periods (HS1 = 6 d; HS2 = 6 d; cycling 28°C to 36°C). Core body temperature (T) was assessed every 15 min with implanted temperature recorders. Regardless of in utero treatment, T increased during both HS periods ( = 0.01; 0.58°C). During TN, HS1, and HS2, all IUHS pigs combined had increased T ( = 0.01; 0.36°C, 0.20°C, and 0.16°C, respectively) compared to TNTN controls. Although unaffected by in utero environment, the total plasma thyroxine to triiodothyronine ratio was reduced ( = 0.01) during HS1 and HS2 (39% and 29%, respectively) compared with TN. In summary, pigs from IUHS maintained an increased T compared with TNTN controls regardless of external T, and this thermal differential may have practical implications to developmental biology and animal bioenergetics.