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Neonatal mammals need adaption to changes in nutrient supply because energy intake shifts from continuous parenteral supply of nutrients (mainly glucose, lactate, and amino acids) via the placenta to discontinuous colostrum and milk intake with lactose and fat as main energy sources. Besides ingested lactose, endogenous glucose production is essential in the neonate to assure sufficient glucose availability. Fetal endogenous glucose production is low, but endocrine changes (especially the prenatal rise of glucocorticoid production) promote maturation of metabolic pathways that enable marked glycogen synthesis before and enhanced gluconeogenesis after birth to establish an adequate glucose status during postnatal maturation. In preterm born farm animals gluconeogenic activity is low, mainly because of a low glucocorticoid and thyroid status. In full-term neonates, endogenous glucose production increases with age. Colostral bioactive components (such as growth factors, hormones, bioactive peptides, and cytokines) do not have a direct effect on endogenous glucose production. However, colostrum feeding stimulates intestinal growth and development, an effect at least in part mediated by bioactive substances. Increased nutrient and glucose absorption thus allows increased glucose supply and hepatic glycogen storage, which improves the glucose status. The improved energetic status of colostrum-fed neonates is reflected by an accelerated maturation of the somatotropic axis, leading especially to enhanced production of IGF-I in the neonate. Secretion and production of hormones involved in the regulation of glucose and fat metabolism in neonates depend on the developmental stage and the response to feeding. In addition, many such hormones have actions in the neonate that differ from adult animals. Endocrine action to support endogenous energy supply in neonates is probably not fully established, and therefore, needs postnatal maturation. Therefore, our knowledge on energy metabolism in the neonate needs to be extended to better understand the function and the failure and to assess endocrine responses during the neonatal period. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


H M Hammon, J Steinhoff-Wagner, U Schönhusen, C C Metges, J W Blum. Energy metabolism in the newborn farm animal with emphasis on the calf: endocrine changes and responses to milk-born and systemic hormones. Domestic animal endocrinology. 2012 Aug;43(2):171-85

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PMID: 22480719

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