In view of the remarkable decrease of the relative heart weight (HW) and the relative blood volume in growing pigs, we investigated whether HW, cardiac output (CO), and stroke volume (SV) of modern growing pigs are proportional to BW, as predicted by allometric scaling laws: HW (or CO or SV) = a.BWb, in which a and b are constants, and constant b is a multiple of 0.25 (quarter-power scaling law). Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that both HW and CO scale with BW to the power of 0.75 (HW or CO = a.BW0.75) and SV scales with BW to the power of 1.00 (SV = a.BW1.0). For this purpose, 2 groups of pigs (group 1, consisting of 157 pigs of 50 ± 1 kg; group 2, consisting of 45 pigs of 268 ± 18 kg) were surgically instrumented with a flow probe or a thermodilution dilution catheter, under open-chest anesthetized conditions to measure CO and SV, after which HW was determined. The 95% confidence intervals of power-coefficient b for HW were 0.74 to 0.80, encompassing the predicted value of 0.75, suggesting that HW increased proportionally with BW, as predicted by the allometric scaling laws. In contrast, the 95% confidence intervals of power-coefficient b for CO and SV as measured with flow probes were 0.40 to 0.56 and 0.39 to 0.61, respectively, and values obtained with the thermodilution technique were 0.34 to 0.53 and 0.40 to 0.62, respectively. Thus, the 95% confidence limits failed to encompass the predicted values of b for CO and SV of 0.75 and 1.0, respectively. In conclusion, although adult breeding sows display normal heart growth, cardiac performance appears to be disproportionately low for BW. This raises concern regarding the health status of adult breeding sows.

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Journal of Animal Science
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Essen, G.J, Vernooij, J.C.M, Heesterbeek, J.A.P, Anjema, D, Merkus, D, & Duncker, D.J.G.M. (2011). Cardiovascular performance of adult breeding sows fails to obey allometric scaling laws. Journal of Animal Science, 89(2), 376–382. doi:10.2527/jas.2010-3059