Rapamycin administration during an acute heat stress challenge in growing pigs

Mayorga, Edith
Horst, Erin
Selsby, Joshua
Goetz, Brady
Rodríguez-Jiménez, Sonia
Abeyta, Megan
Al-Qaisi, Mohmmad
Lei, Samantha
Rhoads, Robert
Selsby, Joshua
Baumgard, Lance
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Animal Science

Study objectives were to determine the effects of rapamycin (Rapa) on biomarkers of metabolism and inflammation during acute heat stress (HS) in growing pigs. Crossbred barrows (n = 32; 63.5 ± 7.2 kg body weight [BW]) were blocked by initial BW and randomly assigned to 1 of 4 environmental-therapeutic treatments: 1) thermoneutral (TN) control (n = 8; TNCon), 2) TN and Rapa (n = 8; TNRapa), 3) HS control (n = 8; HSCon), or 4) HS and Rapa (n = 8; HSRapa). Following 6 d of acclimation to individual pens, pigs were enrolled in 2 experimental periods (P). During P1 (10 d), pigs were fed ad libitum and housed in TN conditions (21.3 ± 0.2°C). During P2 (24 h), HSCon and HSRapa pigs were exposed to constant HS (35.5 ± 0.4°C), while TNCon and TNRapa pigs remained in TN conditions. Rapamycin (0.15 mg/kg BW) was orally administered twice daily (0700 and 1800 h) during both P1 and P2. Heat stress increased rectal temperature and respiration rate compared to TN treatments (1.3ºC and 87 breaths per minute, respectively; P < 0.01). Feed intake (FI) markedly decreased in HS relative to TN treatments (64%; P < 0.01). Additionally, pigs exposed to HS lost BW (4 kg; P < 0.01), while TN pigs gained BW (0.7 kg; P < 0.01). Despite marked changes in phenotypic parameters caused by HS, circulating glucose and blood urea nitrogen did not differ among treatments (P > 0.10). However, the insulin:FI increased in HS relative to TN treatments (P = 0.04). Plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) increased in HS relative to TN treatments; although this difference was driven by increased NEFA in HSCon compared to TN and HSRapa pigs (P < 0.01). Overall, circulating white blood cells, lymphocytes, and monocytes decreased in HS compared to TN pigs (19, 23, and 33%, respectively; P ≤ 0.05). However, circulating neutrophils were similar across treatments (P > 0.31). The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) was increased in HS relative to TN pigs (P = 0.02); however, a tendency for reduced NLR was observed in HSRapa compared to HSCon pigs (21%; P = 0.06). Plasma C-reactive protein tended to differ across treatments (P=0.06) and was increased in HSRapa relative to HSCon pigs (46%; P = 0.03). Circulating haptoglobin was similar between groups. In summary, pigs exposed to HS had altered phenotypic, metabolic, and leukocyte responses; however, Rapa administration had limited impact on outcomes measured herein.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Mayorga, Edith J., Erin A. Horst, Brady M. Goetz, Sonia Rodríguez-Jiménez, Megan A. Abeyta, Mohmmad Al-Qaisi, Samantha Lei, Robert P. Rhoads, Joshua T. Selsby, and Lance H. Baumgard. "Rapamycin administration during an acute heat stress challenge in growing pigs." Journal of Animal Science (2021). doi:10.1093/jas/skab145.