Metabolic profiling reveals effects of age, sexual development and neutering in plasma of young male cats

David Allaway, Matthew S. Gilham, Alison Colyer, Thomas J. Joènsson, Kelly S. Swanson, Penelope J. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neutering is a significant risk factor for obesity in cats. The mechanisms that promote neuter-Associated weight gain are not well understood but following neutering, acute changes in energy expenditure and energy consumption have been observed. Metabolic profiling (GCMS and UHPLC-MS-MS) was used in a longitudinal study to identify changes associated with age, sexual development and neutering in male cats fed a nutritionally-complete dry diet to maintain an ideal body condition score. At eight time points, between 19 and 52 weeks of age, fasted blood samples were taken from kittens neutered at either 19 weeks of age (Early Neuter (EN), n = 8) or at 31 weeks of age (Conventional Neuter (CN), n = 7). Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to compare plasma metabolites (n = 370) from EN and CN cats. Age was the primary driver of variance in the plasma metabolome, including a developmental change independent of neuter group between 19 and 21 weeks in lysolipids and fatty acid amides. Changes associated with sexual development and its subsequent loss were also observed, with differences at some time points observed between EN and CN cats for 45 metabolites (FDR p<0.05). Pathway Enrichment Analysis also identified significant effects in 20 pathways, dominated by amino acid, sterol and fatty acid metabolism. Most changes were interpretable within the context of male sexual development, and changed following neutering in the CN group. Felinine metabolism in CN cats was the most significantly altered pathway, increasing during sexual development and decreasing acutely following neutering. Felinine is a testosterone-regulated, felid-specific glutathione derivative secreted in urine. Alterations in tryptophan, histidine and tocopherol metabolism observed in peripubertal cats may be to support physiological functions of glutathione following diversion of S-Amino acids for urinary felinine secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0168144
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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