Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 December 2007
The discovery of the dominance of short-chain fatty acids as energy sources in the 1940s and 1950s, as discussed in part I of this review (Annison & Bryden, 1998) led to uncertainties concerning the interrelationships of glucose and acetate in ruminant metabolism. These were resolved in the following decade largely by use of 14C-labelled substrates. Although only small amounts of glucose are absorbed in most dietary situations, glucose availability to ruminant tissues as measured by isotope dilution was shown to be substantial, indicating that gluconeogenesis is a major metabolic activity in both fed and fasted states. Studies with 14C-labelled glucose and acetate revealed that in contrast to non-ruminants, acetate and not glucose is the major precursor of long-chain fatty acids in ruminant tissues. Interest in the measurement of energy metabolism in livestock grew rapidly from the 1950s. Most laboratories adopted indirect calorimetry and precise measurements of the energy expenditure of ruminants contributed to the development of new feeding systems. More recently, alternative approaches to the measurement of energy expenditure have included the use of NMR spectroscopy, isotope dilution and the application of the Fick principle to measure O2 consumption in the whole animal and in defined tissues. The refinement of the classical arterio-venous difference procedure in the study of mammary gland metabolism in the 1960s, particularly when combined with isotope dilution, encouraged the use of these methods to generate quantitative data on the metabolism of a range of defined tissues. The recent introduction of new methods for the continuous monitoring of both blood flow and blood O2 content has greatly increased the precision and scope of arterio-venous difference measurements. The impact of data produced by these and other quantitative procedures on current knowledge of the metabolism of glucose, short-chain fatty acids and lipids, and on N metabolism, is outlined. The role of the portal-drained viscera and liver in N metabolism is discussed in relation to data obtained by the use of multi-catheterized animals. Protein turnover, and the impact of stress (physical, social and disease related) on protein metabolism have been reviewed. The growth of knowledge of mammary gland metabolism and milk synthesis since the first quantitative studies in the 1960s has been charted. Recent findings on the regulation of amino acid uptake and utilization by the mammary gland, and on the control of milk secretion, are of particular interest and importance.