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Open Access Research

Effects of combined maternal administration with alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) on prenatal programming of skeletal properties in the offspring

Marcin R Tatara1*, Witold Krupski2, Barbara Tymczyna3 and Tadeusz Studziński14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, ul. Akademicka 12, 20-950, Lublin, Poland

2 II Department of Radiology, Medical University of Lublin, ul. Staszica 16, 20-081, Lublin, Poland

3 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Medical University of Lublin, ul. Karmelicka 7, 20-081, Lublin, Poland

4 Department of Animal Physiology, Studium Generale Sandomiriense, ul. Krakowska 26, 27-600, Sandomierz, Poland

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2012, 9:39  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-39

Published: 11 May 2012



Nutritional manipulations during fetal growth may induce long-term metabolic effects in postnatal life. The aim of the study was to test whether combined treatment of pregnant sows with alpha-ketoglutarate and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate induces additive long-term effects on skeletal system properties in the offspring.


The study was performed on 290 pigs obtained from 24 sows divided into 4 equal groups and subjected to experimental treatment during two weeks before delivery. The first group consisted of control sows, while the second group received alpha-ketoglutarate. The third group was treated with β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate and the fourth group underwent combined administration of alpha-ketoglutarate and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate. Piglets obtained from sows were reared until slaughter age to perform morphometric, densitometric and mechanical analyses of femur. Serum evaluations of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin were performed in newborns and 90-day old piglets; additionally, plasma amino acid concentration was measured in newborns.


Maternal treatment with alpha-ketoglutarate and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate significantly reduced fattening time and increased birth body weight, daily body weight gain, bone weight, volumetric bone mineral density, geometrical parameters and mechanical endurance of femur. These effects were associated with increased serum concentrations of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin. Furthermore, alpha-ketoglutarate and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate administered solely or in combination significantly increased plasma level of 19 amino acids.


Hormonal and amino acid evaluations in pigs indicate additive effects of AKG and HMB on systemic growth and development; however, determination of bone properties has not shown such phenomenon.

Alpha-ketoglutarate; β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate; Prenatal programming; Skeletal system; Somatotrophic axis