Leptin-Insulin Interactions: Improving Production Efficiency in Ruminants
This study will extend our understanding of the role of the hormone leptin in beef cattle, with a longer-term goal of using knowledge gained to improve production efficiency. Leptin interacts with insulin, affecting the ways that cattle use their body fuel sources such as fats and sugars. Leptin is produced by fat, but muscle is the tissue which uses most of the body's fuels. So we see that there is a direct link between this hormone produced by fat, affecting processes in muscle, and insulin. In other words this is a direct signaling system between fat and muscle. These tissues are the most important in terms of beef eating quality. In terms of efficiency of growth, it is these tissues in which we are most interested also. Objectives of this project focus upon how leptin and insulin signal and influence use of body fuel reserves. Subsequently,
we will develop strategies to block specific messengers and control whether cattle can be switched between using fats or sugars as energy sources. This will have a large effect on efficiency of growth. The ability to regulate the use of fat as a fuel source more readily than sugars will reduce the costs associated with providing feed and/or pasture, enhancing the sustainability of meat production in the United States, and leading to avenues with which to reduce production costs and to make meat more attractive to consumers of meat products.