Pigs are widely used as models for human physiological changes in intervention studies, because of the close resemblance between human and porcine physiology and the high degree of experimental control when using an animal model. Cloned animals have, in principle, identical genotypes and possibly also phenotypes and this offer an extra level of experimental control which could possibly make them a desirable tool for intervention studies. Therefore, in the present study, we address how phenotype and phenotypic variation is affected by cloning, through comparison of cloned pigs and normal outbred pigs.
The metabolic phenotype of cloned pigs (n = 5) was for the first time elucidated by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomic analysis of multiple bio-fluids including plasma, bile and urine. The metabolic phenotype of the cloned pigs was compared with normal outbred pigs (n = 6) by multivariate data analysis, which revealed differences in the metabolic phenotypes. Plasma lactate was higher for cloned vs control pigs, while multiple metabolites were altered in the bile. However a lower inter-individual variability for cloned pigs compared with control pigs could not be established.
From the present study we conclude that cloned and normal outbred pigs are phenotypically different. However, it cannot be concluded that the use of cloned animals will reduce the inter-individual variation in intervention studies, though this is based on a limited number of animals.