To determine effects of pregnancy (experiment 1) and plane of nutrition during pregnancy (experiment 2) on pancreatic digestive enzymes and morphology of insulin-containing cell clusters, beef cows were slaughtered, and the pancreas collected 4 wk before parturition (if pregnant or similar time on feed for nonpregnant cows). In experiment 1, mature, nonlactating cows [717 ± 70 kg; nine pregnant (PREG) and nine nonpregnant (OPEN)] were used. In experiment 2, nonlactating, pregnant cows (639 ± 68 kg) were fed at 85% (n = 11; LOW) or 140% (n = 11; HIGH) of net energy (NE) requirements. Concentration (U g-1) and content (U kg-1 BW) of α-amylase and trypsin activities were greater (P ≤ 0.05) in OPEN than PREG cows. Pregnant cows had greater (P ≤ 0.03) insulin-cell cluster size and proportion of large insulin-containing cell clusters than OPEN cows. Concentration and content of α-amylase activity were greater (P ≤ 0.04) in HIGH than LOW cows. These data indicate that pregnancy status (PREG vs. OPEN) impacts pancreatic exocrine and endocrine functions and that plane of nutrition (85% vs. 140% of NE requirements) of pregnant cows may not greatly impact pancreatic exocrine and endocrine functions.
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