Age-related differences in mucosal barrier function and morphology of the small intestine in low and normal birth weight piglets
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Journal of animal science. - Champaign, Ill., 1942, currens
, p. 3398-3406
University of Antwerp
To test the hypothesis that the mucosal maturation of the small intestine is altered in low birth weight piglets, pairs of naturally suckled low birth weight (LBW, n = 20) and normal birth weight (NBW, n = 20) littermate piglets were selected and sampled after 0, 3, 10, and 28 d of suckling. In vivo intestinal permeability was evaluated via a lactulose-mannitol absorption test. Other indirect measurements for mucosal barrier functioning included sampling for histology and immunohistochemistry (intestinal trefoil factor [ITF]), measuring intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) activity, and immunoblotting for occludin, caspase-3, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). The lactulose-mannitol ratio did not differ between NBW and LBW piglets, but a significant increase in this ratio was observed in 28-d-old piglets (P = 0.001). Small intestinal villus height did not differ with age (P = 0.02) or birth weight (P = 0.20). In contrast, villus width (P = 0.02) and crypt depth (P < 0.05) increased gradually with age, but no birth-weight-related differences were observed. LBW piglets had significantly (P = 0.03) more ITF immunoreactive positive cells per villus area compared to NBW piglets, whereas no age (P = 0.82) or region-related (P = 0.13) differences could be observed. The activity of IAP in the small intestine was higher in newborn piglets compared to the older piglets. No significant differences in cell proliferation in the small intestine was observed (P = 0.47) between NBW and LBW piglets; the highest proliferation was seen in piglets of 28 d of age (P = 0.01). Newborn piglets had significantly fewer apoptotic cells, whereas more apoptotic cells were seen in piglets of 10 d of age (P < 0.01). In conclusion, birth weight did not affect the parameters related to intestinal barrier function investigated in this study, suggesting that the mucosal barrier function is not altered in LBW piglets. Nevertheless, these results confirm that the mucosal barrier function in the small intestine of piglets alters with age.