Dietary effects of melatonin on growth performance by modulation of protein bioavailability and behavior in early weaned rats and pigs
Melatonin, which is produced from tryptophan, exerts various biological functions, including the regulation of circadian rhythm, sedative agents, and antioxidant ability. Therefore, we conducted two experiments with early weaned rats and pigs to investigate the antioxidant effect and reductive effect of energy-wasting behavior. In the rat experiment, a total of 42 rats (21 days old) were used, and the antioxidant capacity was determined. Next, we used 120 early-weaned piglets (21 days old) to conduct a 5-week experiment to evaluate the reductive effect of melatonin on energy-wasting movement, including roaming and fight states. Dietary melatonin supplementation significantly improved growth in both rats and pigs compared to the control groups. Additionally, rats fed a melatonin-supplemented diet showed advanced antioxidant capacity with a decrease in hepatic malondialdehyde concentration compared to rats fed a basal diet. Moreover, dietary melatonin ingestion increased resting and feeding behaviors and reduced roaming and fight behaviors during Days 8-21 compared to the control diet group. Collectively, early weaned animals given dietary melatonin supplementation showed improved growth through upregulation of hepatic antioxidant capacity and minimization of energy-wasting behavior, including roaming and fight states, after pigs’ social hierarchy establishment.