The porcine tonsils and Peyer's patches : a stereological morphometric analysis in conventionally and artificially reared piglets
Selection for prolificacy in modern pig farming has resulted in increasing litter sizes. Since rearing large litters is challenging, artificial rearing of piglets with a milk replacer is an alternative strategy. It is hypothesized that the development of the piglets mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues (MALT) is affected by these artificial conditions. Therefore, the stereologically estimated volumes of the tonsil of the soft palate, and the lingual, nasopharyngeal and paraepiglottic tonsils, as well as the jejunal and ileal Peyers patches were statistically compared at day 21 postpartum between six conventionally reared piglets and six piglets that were artificially reared from day 7 onwards. In addition, six 7-day-old sow-fed piglets were examined to evaluate the effect of age. All tonsils and Peyers patches significantly increased in volume with age. The rearing strategy had no significant effect on the volumes of the tonsil of the soft palate and the lingual tonsil. The former tonsil was by far the largest with a mean volume of 967.2 ± 122.4 mm3 and 822.3 ± 125.4 mm3 in the conventionally and artificially reared piglets, respectively. The lingual tonsil only measured 9.4 ± 6.4 mm3 and 6.3 ± 2.6 mm3 in conventionally and artificially reared groups, respectively. In contrast, the rearing strategy did affect the volumes of the nasopharyngeal and paraepiglottic tonsils, which had a mean volume of 137.1 ± 32.4 mm3 and 84.4 ± 26.9 mm3, and 30.7 ± 7.8 mm3 and 20.0 ± 3.9 mm3 in conventionally and artificially reared piglets, respectively. The rearing strategy did not affect the development of the Peyers patches. At day 21, the jejunal Peyers patches of the conventionally and artificially reared piglets presented a volume of 1.6 ± 0.4 cm3 and 1.3 ± 0.2 cm3, respectively. The volumes of the ileal Peyers patch amounted to 15.1 ± 3.0 cm³ in conventionally reared piglets and 12.0 ± 2.6 cm³ in artificially reared piglets at day 21. The results showed that artificial rearing hampers the morphological development of the tonsils that are exposed to inhaled antigens, but the voluminous lymphoid tissues that sample oral antigens are not influenced. Since it is unlikely that the observed differences in both tonsils are due to the milk replacer, artificial rearing could be a valuable alternative for raising large litters. In addition, the presence of developing MALT in piglets allows for investigating the value of nasal and oral vaccination in this species for human or veterinary purposes.
Source (journal)
Veterinary immunology and immunopathology: an international journal of comparative immunology. - Amsterdam
Amsterdam : 2018
206 (2018) , p. 9-15
Pubmed ID
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (open access)
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
Research group
Project info
Evaluation of management and weaning strategies in pork meat production on the development of the intestinal immune system of the piglet, in particular the low birth weight piglet.
Screening of the health status of low birth weight piglets exposed to various rearing strategies using saliva proteomics.
Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Creation 15.12.2018
Last edited 25.05.2022
To cite this reference