Post-weaning diet affects faecal microbial composition but not selected adipose gene expression in the cat (Felis catus)

Emma N. Bermingham, Sandra Kittelmann, Wayne Young, Katherine R. Kerr, Kelly S. Swanson, Nicole C. Roy, David G. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of pre- (i.e., gestation and during lactation) and post-weaning diet on the composition of faecal bacterial communities and adipose expression of key genes in the glucose and insulin pathways were investigated in the cat. Queens were maintained on a moderate protein:fat:carbohydrate kibbled ("Diet A"; 35:20:28% DM; n = 4) or high protein:fat:carbohydrate canned ("Diet B"; 45:37:2% DM; n = 3) diet throughout pregnancy and lactation. Offspring were weaned onto these diets in a nested design (n = 5 per treatment). Faecal samples were collected at wk 8 and 17 of age. DNA was isolated from faeces and bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplicons were analysed by pyrosequencing. RNA was extracted from blood (wk 18) and adipose tissue and ovarian/testicular tissues (wk 24) and gene expression levels determined using RT-qPCR. Differences (P<0.05) in composition of faecal bacteria were observed between pregnant queens fed Diet A or B. However, pre-weaning diet had little effect on faecal bacterial composition in weaned kittens. In contrast, post-weaning diet altered bacterial population profiles in the kittens. Increased (P<0.05) abundance of Firmicutes (77% vs 52% of total reads) and Actinobacteria (0.8% vs 0.2% of total reads), and decreased (P<0.05) abundance of Fusobacteria (1.6% vs 18.4% of total reads) were observed for kittens fed the Diet A compared to those fed Diet B post-weaning. Feeding Diet B pre-weaning increased (P<0.05) the expression levels of INRS, LEPT, PAI-1 and tended to increase GLUT1, while the expression levels of IRS-1 in blood increased in kittens fed Diet A pre-weaning. Post-weaning diet had no effect on expression levels of target genes. Correlations between the expression levels of genes involved in glucose and insulin pathways and faecal Bacteriodetes and Firmicutes phyla were identified. The reasons for why post-weaning diet affects microbial populations and not gene expression levels are of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere80992
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 28 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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