The action of the beta-agonist clenbuterol on protein and energy metabolism in fattening wether lambs

C MacRae, P A Skene, A Connell, Vivien Buchan, Gerald Lobley

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49 Citations (Scopus)


1. Five Greyface wethers (42-45 kg) fed on various fixed amounts of dried grass pellets (either approximately 1.3 times maintenance or 2 times maintenance) by means of belt-type continuous feeders were housed in open-circuit respiration chambers for periods of 45 d. Between days 15 and 35 they received daily oral doses of 1.5 mg of the beta-adrenergic agonist clenbuterol (adsorbed on to the feed). Continuous energy and nitrogen balance measurements each of 5 d duration were conducted throughout the chamber confinement. 2. On six occasions (twice during the 15 d pre-clenbuterol period, on days +4, +11 and +18 of clenbuterol administration and once during the post-treatment period) animals were infused with [1-14C]leucine to determine the rates of leucine oxidation and the amounts of leucine available for protein synthesis. 3. Clenbuterol administration caused a marked increase in N retention (2-3 g N/d; P less than 0.001) throughout the 20 d treatment period. It also increased (P less than 0.001) the energy expenditure of the animals (on average by 1.1 MJ/d over the first 5 d, compared with immediate pretreatment values, and 0.6 MJ/d over the 20 d period, compared with the mean of pre- and post-treatment control values). The effect of treatment was calculated to result, on average, in the daily retention of 19 (SE 1.5) g more protein and 30 (SE 5.5) g less fat. 4. During clenbuterol treatment leucine oxidation was reduced (P less than 0.01). However, values for the amounts of leucine available for protein synthesis were equivocal, with an increase (P less than 0.001) on day 11 of treatment, but no change on days 4 and 18. 5. Withdrawal of the clenbuterol resulted in rapid alterations of N and energy metabolism towards those expected of control animals of that weight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-65
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1988


  • Animals
  • Clenbuterol
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Ethanolamines
  • Leucine
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Nitrogen
  • Proteins
  • Sheep


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