Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Animal Science 1994. 72:68-74. Copyright © 1994 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Forty-eight crossbred rabbits were used in three replications of a 2 x 4 factorial arrangement to investigate the short-term responses of tissue accretion, calpains and calpastatin activity, and nucleic acid and protein concentrations to β- adrenergic agonist (BAA) feeding. Rabbits were fed a 17% CP diet with or without 7 ppm of L644,969 and slaughtered after 1, 4, 8, or 16 d of treatment. Empty body dressing percentage and biceps femoris weight (as a percentage of empty body weight [EBWI) were significantly higher in the treated rabbits than in the controls after 16 d of treatment. Heart and liver weights (as a percentage of EBW) were higher ( P < .05) after 1 d and liver weight (as a percentage of EBW) was lower (P < .05) after 16 d in treated vs controls. Except for an elevation of skeletal muscle m-calpain after 16 d, BAA-supplementation did not affect the calpain-calpastatin system. Muscle RNA concentrations and RNA:DNA ratios were higher (P < .05) in treated rabbits after 1 d and remained higher thereafter. Protein:RNA ratios were lower ( P < .0 1) in treated than in control rabbits after 4 d and remained lower throughout the trial. Muscle DNA content was lower after 4 d and higher after 16 d; RNA content was higher after 4, 8, and 16 d; and protein content was higher after 16 d in treated vs control rabbits. Liver nucleic acid and protein concentrations were not affected by BAA treatment. Heart RNA:DNA ratios were higher ( P < .0 1) after 1 d and protein:RNA ratios were lower (P < .05) after 4 d in the treated rabbits than in the controls. Collectively, these data imply that BAA-induced muscle growth in rabbits occurs through hyperplasia and seems to be related to elevated protein synthetic capacity.