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Prolonged parturition duration has been widely demonstrated to be a risk factor for incidence of stillbirth. This study evaluated the supply of dietary fibre on the parturition duration, gut microbiota and metabolome using sows as a model. A total of 40 Yorkshire sows were randomly given diet containing normal level of dietary fibre (NDF, 17·5 % dietary fibre) or high level of dietary fibre (HDF, 33·5 % dietary fibre). Faecal microbiota profiled with 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, SCFA and metabolome in the faeces and plasma around parturition were compared between the dietary groups. Correlation analysis was conducted to further explore the potential associations between specific bacterial taxa and metabolites. Results showed that HDF diet significantly improved the parturition process as presented by the shorter parturition duration. HDF diet increased the abundance of the phyla Bacteroidetes and Synergistetes and multiple genera. Except for butyrate, SCFA levels in the faeces and plasma of sows at parturition were elevated in HDF group. The abundances of fifteen and twelve metabolites in the faeces and plasma, respectively, markedly differ between HDF and NDF sows. These metabolites are involved in energy metabolism and bacterial metabolism. Correlation analysis also showed associations between specific bacteria taxa and metabolites. Collectively, our study indicates that the improvement of parturition duration by high fibre intake in late gestation is associated with gut microbiota, production of SCFA and other metabolites, potentially serving for energy metabolism.
To investigate the effects of dietary fibre on follicular atresia in pigs fed a high-fat diet, we fed thirty-two prepubescent gilts a basal diet (CON) or a CON diet supplemented with 300 g/d dietary fibre (fibre), 240 g/d soya oil (SO) or both (fibre + SO). At the 19th day of the 4th oestrus cycle, gilts fed the SO diet showed 112 % more atretic follicles and greater expression of the apoptotic markers, Bax and caspase-3, and these effects were reversed by the fibre diet. The abundance of SCFA-producing microbes was decreased by the SO diet, but this effect was reversed by fibre treatment. Concentrations of serotonin and melatonin in the serum and follicular fluid were increased by the fibre diet. Overall, dietary fibre protected against high fat feeding-induced follicular atresia at least partly via gut microbiota-related serotonin–melatonin synthesis. These results provide insight into preventing negative effects on fertility in humans consuming a high-energy diet.
Bile acids (BA) have emerged as signalling molecules regulating intestinal physiology. The importance of intestinal microbiota in production of secondary BA, for example, lithocholic acid (LCA) which impairs enterocyte proliferation and permeability, triggered us to determine the effects of oral probiotics on intestinal BA metabolism. Piglets were weaned at 28 d of age and allocated into control (CON, n 14) or probiotic (PRO, n 14) group fed 50 mg of Lactobacillus plantarum daily, and gut microbiota and BA profile were determined. To test the potential interaction of LCA with bacteria endotoxins in inducing damage of enterocytes, IPEC-J2 cells were treated with LCA, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and LCA + LPS and expressions of genes related to inflammation, antioxidant capacity and nutrient transport were determined. Compared with the CON group, the PRO group showed lower total LCA level in the ileum and higher relative abundance of the Lactobacillus genus in faeces. In contrast, the relative abundances of Bacteroides, Clostridium_sensu_stricto_1, Parabacteroides and Ruminococcus_1, important bacteria genera in BA biotransformation, were all lower in the PRO than in the CON group. Moreover, PRO piglets had lower postprandial glucagon-like peptide-1 level, while higher glucose level than CON piglets. Co-administration of LPS and LCA led to down-regulated expression of glucose and peptide transporter genes in IPEC-J2 cells. Altogether, oral L. plantarum altered BA profile probably by modulating relative abundances of gut microbial genera that play key roles in BA metabolism and might consequently impact glucose homoeostasis. The detrimental effect of LCA on nutrient transport in enterocytes might be aggravated under LPS challenge.
This study aimed to investigate the effects of dietary live yeast (LY) supplementation on growth, intestinal permeability and immunological parameters of piglets challenged with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli K88 (ETEC). Piglets weaned at 21 d were allocated into three treatments with six pens and six piglets per pen, receiving the control diet (CON), diets supplemented with antibiotics plus zinc oxide (ANT–ZnO) and LY (Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain CNCM I-4407), respectively, for a period of 2 weeks. On day 8, thirty-six piglets were selected as control without ETEC (CON), CON–ETEC, ANT–ZnO–ETEC and LY–ETEC groups challenged with ETEC until day 10 for sample collections. Piglets fed ANT–ZnO diet had the highest average daily gain and average daily feed intake (P<0·05) during the 1st week, but ADG of piglets fed the ANT–ZnO diet was similar as piglets fed LY diet during the second week. Piglets with LY–ETEC or ANT–ZnO–ETEC had markedly lower diarrhoea score (P<0·05) than piglets with CON–ETEC during the 24 h after ETEC challenge. Relative to piglets with CON, the counts of E. coli, urinary ratio of lactulose to mannitol, plasma IL-6 concentration, mRNA abundances of innate immunity-related genes in ileum and mesenteric lymph node tissues were increased (P<0·05), whereas the villous height of jejunum and relative protein expression of ileum claudin-1 were decreased (P<0·05) in piglets with CON–ETEC; however, these parameters did not markedly change in piglets with LY–ETEC or ANT–ZnO–ETEC. In summary, dietary LY supplementation could alleviate the severity of diarrhoea in piglets with ETEC, which may be associated with the improved permeability, innate immunity and bacterial profile.
The intestine plays key roles in maintaining body arginine (Arg) homoeostasis. Meanwhile, the intestine is very susceptible to reactive oxygen species. In light of this, the study aimed to explore the effects of Arg supplementation on intestinal morphology, Arg transporters and metabolism, and the potential protective mechanism of Arg supplementation in piglets under oxidative stress. A total of thirty-six weaned piglets were randomly allocated to six groups with six replicates and fed a base diet (0·95 % Arg,) or base diet supplemented with 0·8 % and 1·6 % l-Arg for 1 week, respectively. Subsequently, a challenge test was conducted by intraperitoneal injection of diquat, an initiator of radical production, or sterile saline. The whole trial lasted 11 d. The diquat challenge significantly decreased plasma Arg concentration at 6 h after injection (P<0·05), lowered villus height in the jejunum and ileum (P<0·05) as well as villus width and crypt depth in the duodenum, jejunum and ileum (P<0·05). Oxidative stress significantly increased cationic amino acid transporter (CAT)-1, CAT-2 and CAT-3, mRNA levels (P<0·05), decreased arginase II (ARGII) and inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA levels, and increased TNF-α mRNA level in the jejunum (P<0·05). Supplementation with Arg significantly decreased crypt depth (P<0·05), suppressed CAT-1 mRNA expression induced by diquat (P<0·05), increased ARGII and endothelial nitric oxide synthase mRNA levels (P<0·05), and effectively relieved the TNF-α mRNA expression induced by diquat in the jejunum (P<0·05). It is concluded that oxidative stress decreased Arg bioavailability and increased expression of inflammatory cytokines in the jejunum, and that Arg supplementation has beneficial effects in the jejunum through regulation of the metabolism of Arg and suppression of inflammatory cytokine expression in piglets.
The present study aimed to investigate the effect of maternal malnutrition on offspring glucose tolerance and the epigenetic mechanisms involved. In total, twelve primiparous Landrace×Yorkshire gilts were fed rations providing either 100 % (control (CON)) or 75 % (undernutrition (UN)) nutritional requirements according to the National Research Council recommendations, throughout gestation. Muscle samples of offspring were collected at birth (dpn1), weaning (dpn28) and adulthood (dpn189). Compared with CON pigs, UN pigs showed lower serum glucose concentrations at birth, but showed higher serum glucose and insulin concentrations as well as increased area under the blood glucose curve during intravenous glucose tolerance test at dpn189 (P<0·05). Compared with CON pigs, GLUT-4 gene and protein expressions were decreased at dpn1 and dpn189 in the muscle of UN pigs, which was accompanied by increased methylation at the GLUT4 promoter (P<0·05). These alterations in methylation concurred with increased mRNA levels of DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) 1 at dpn1 and dpn28, DNMT3a at dpn189 and DNMT3b at dpn1 in UN pigs compared with CON pigs (P<0·05). Interestingly, although the average methylation levels at the muscle GLUT4 promoter were decreased at dpn189 compared with dpn1 in pigs exposed to a poor maternal diet (P<0·05), the methylation differences in individual CpG sites were more pronounced with age. Our results indicate that in utero undernutrition persists to silence muscle GLUT4 likely through DNA methylation during the ageing process, which may lead to the amplification of age-associated glucose intolerance.
Intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR) impairs postnatal growth and skeletal muscle development in neonatal infants. This study evaluated whether dietary β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate Ca (HMB-Ca) supplementation during the early postnatal period could improve muscle growth in IUGR neonates using piglets as a model. A total of twelve pairs of IUGR and normal-birth-weight (NBW) male piglets with average initial weights (1·85 (sem 0·36) and 2·51 (sem 0·39) kg, respectively) were randomly allotted to groups that received milk-based diets (CON) or milk-based diets supplemented with 800 mg/kg HMB-Ca (HMB) during days 7–28 after birth. Blood and longissimus dorsi (LD) samples were collected and analysed for plasma amino acid content, fibre morphology and the expression of genes related to muscle development. The results indicate that, regardless of diet, IUGR piglets had a significantly decreased average daily weight gain (ADG) compared with that of NBW piglets (P<0·05). However, IUGR piglets fed HMB-Ca had a net weight and ADG similar to that of NBW piglets fed the CON diet. Irrespective of body weight (BW), HMB-Ca supplementation markedly increased the type II fibre cross-sectional area and the mRNA expression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), insulin-like growth factor-1 and myosin heavy-chain isoform IIb in the LD of piglets (P<0·05). Moreover, there was a significant interaction between the effects of BW and HMB on mTOR expression in the LD (P<0·05). In conclusion, HMB-Ca supplementation during the early postnatal period could improve skeletal muscle growth and maturity by accelerating fast-twitch glycolytic fibre development in piglets.
Postnatal rapid growth by excess intake of nutrients has been associated with an increased susceptibility to diseases in neonates with intra-uterine growth restricted (IUGR). The aim of the present study was to determine whether postnatal nutritional restriction could improve intestinal development and immune function of neonates with IUGR using piglets as model. A total of twelve pairs of normal-birth weight (NBW) and IUGR piglets (7 d old) were randomly assigned to receive adequate nutrient intake or restricted nutrient intake (RNI) by artificially liquid feeding for a period of 21 d. Blood samples and intestinal tissues were collected at necropsy and were analysed for morphology, digestive enzyme activities, immune cells and expression of innate immunity-related genes. The results indicated that both IUGR and postnatal nutritional restriction delayed the growth rate during the sucking period. Irrespective of nutrient intake, piglets with IUGR had a significantly lower villous height and crypt depth in the ileum than the NBW piglets. Moreover, IUGR decreased alkaline phosphatase activity while enhanced lactase activity in the jejunum and mRNA expressions of Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR-9) and DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) in the ileum of piglets. Irrespective of body weight, RNI significantly decreased the number and/or percentage of peripheral leucocytes, lymphocytes and monocytes of piglets, whereas the percentage of neutrophils and the ratio of CD4+ to CD8+ were increased. Furthermore, RNI markedly enhanced the mRNA expression of TLR-9 and DNMT1, but decreased the expression of NOD2 and TRAF-6 in the ileum of piglets. In summary, postnatal nutritional restriction led to abnormal cellular and innate immune response, as well as delayed the growth and intestinal development of IUGR piglets.
The aim of the present study was to determine whether increased consumption of methionine as dl-methionine (DLM) or its hydroxy analogue dl-2-hydroxy-4-methylthiobutanoic acid (HMTBA) could benefit milk synthesis and neonatal growth. For this purpose, eighteen cross-bred (Landrace × Yorkshire) primiparous sows were fed a control (CON), DLM or HMTBA diet (n 6 per diet) from 0 to 14 d post-partum. At postnatal day 14, piglets in the HMTBA group had higher body weight (P= 0·02) than those in the CON group, tended (P= 0·07) to be higher than those in the DLM group, and had higher (P< 0·05) mRNA abundance of jejunal fatty acid-binding protein 2, intestinal than those in the CON and DLM groups. Compared with the CON diet-fed sows, milk protein, non-fat solid, and lysine, histidine and ornithine concentrations decreased in the DLM diet-fed sows (P< 0·05), and milk fat, lactose, and cysteine and taurine concentrations increased in the HMTBA diet-fed sows (P< 0·05). Plasma homocysteine and urea N concentrations that averaged across time were increased (P< 0·05) in sows fed the DLM diet compared with those fed the CON diet. Metabolomic results based on 1H NMR spectroscopy revealed that consumption of the HMTBA and DLM diets increased (P< 0·05) both sow plasma methionine and valine levels; however, consumption of the DLM diet led to lower (P< 0·05) plasma levels of lysine, tyrosine, glucose and acetate and higher (P< 0·05) plasma levels of citrate, lactate, formate, glycerol, myo-inositol and N-acetyl glycoprotein in sows. Collectively, neonatal growth and milk synthesis were regulated by dietary methionine levels and sources, which resulted in marked alterations in amino acid, lipid and glycogen metabolism.
The aim of the present study was to determine whether early weaning-induced growth retardation could be attenuated by increased consumption of methionine as dl-methionine (DLM) or dl-2-hydroxy-4-methylthiobutyrate (HMTBA) in both lactating sows and weaned piglets. Therefore, diets containing DLM and HMTBA at 25 % of the total sulphur-containing amino acids (AA) present in the control (CON) diet were fed to lactating sows and weaned piglets and their responses were evaluated. Compared with the CON diet-fed sows, the HMTBA diet-fed sows exhibited a tendency (P< 0·10) towards higher plasma taurine concentrations and the DLM diet-fed sows had higher (P< 0·05) plasma taurine concentrations, but lower (P< 0·05) isoleucine concentrations. Suckling piglets in the HMTBA treatment group had higher (P< 0·05) intestinal reduced glutathione (GSH) content, lower (P< 0·05) oxidised glutathione (GSSG):GSH ratio, and higher (P< 0·05) plasma cysteine and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity than those in the CON and DLM treatment groups. The feed intake (P< 0·05) and body weight of piglets averaged across post-weaning (PW) days were higher (P< 0·05) in the HMTBA treatment group than in the DLM treatment group and were higher (P< 0·05) and tended (P< 0·10) to be higher, respectively, in the HMTBA treatment group than in the CON treatment group. Increased (P< 0·05) GSSG content and GSSG:GSH ratio and down-regulated (P< 0·05) expression of nutrient transport genes were observed in the jejunum of piglets on PW day 7 than on PW day 0. On PW day 14, the HMTBA diet-fed piglets had higher (P< 0·05) intestinal GSH content than the CON diet-fed piglets and higher (P< 0·05) plasma GPx activity, villus height and goblet cell numbers than the CON diet- and DLM diet-fed piglets. In conclusion, early weaning-induced growth retardation appears to be attenuated through changes in plasma AA profiles and elevation of growth performance and intestinal antioxidant capacity in piglets following increased consumption of methionine as HMTBA.
Intra-uterine growth-retarded (IUGR) neonates have shown an impairment of postnatal intestinal development and function. We hypothesised that the immune function of IUGR neonates might be affected by increased nutrient intake (NI) during the suckling period. Therefore, we investigated the effects of high NI (HNI) on the growth performance, intestinal morphology and immunological response of IUGR and normal-birth weight (NBW) piglets. A total of twelve pairs of IUGR and NBW piglets (7 d old) were randomly assigned to two different nutrient-level formula milk groups. After 21 d of rearing, growth performance, the composition of peripheral leucocytes, serum cytokines and intestinal innate immune-related genes involved in the Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4–myeloid differentiation factor 88–NF-κB pathway were determined. The results indicated that IUGR decreased the average daily DM intake (ADMI) and the average daily growth (ADG). However, the ADMI and ADG were increased by HNI, irrespective of body weight. Likewise, serum cytokines (TNF-α and IL-1β) and ileal gene expressions (TLR-4, TLR-9, TRAF-6 and IL-1β) were lower in IUGR piglets, whereas HNI significantly increased blood lymphocyte percentage and serum IL-10 concentrations, but decreased neutrophil percentage, serum IL-1β concentrations and ileal gene expressions (NF-κB and IL-1β). Furthermore, IUGR piglets with HNI exhibited lower serum concentrations of TNF-α and IL-1β than NBW piglets, and these alterations in the immune traits of IUGR piglets receiving HNI were accompanied by decreasing ileal gene expressions of TLR-4, TLR-9, NF-κB and IL-1β that are related to innate immunity. In conclusion, the present findings suggest that increased NI during the suckling period impaired the immune function of neonatal piglets with IUGR.
Oxidative stress is detrimental to animals. Previous studies have indicated that arginine (Arg) may function as a potential substance against oxidative stress. The present study was conducted to explore the potential mechanisms behind the Arg-induced protective effects against oxidative stress in piglets. A total of thirty-six piglets were randomly allocated to six groups with six replicates per group. Piglets were subjected to three dietary treatments (namely two groups per treatment) in week 1 and fed with a basal diet (ArgL) or the basal diet supplemented with 0·8 % (ArgM) or 1·6 % (ArgH) l-Arg, respectively. On day 8, piglets were injected intraperitoneally either with diquat (10 mg/kg body weight) or sterile saline. The whole trial lasted 11 d. Results showed that dietary Arg supplementation did not affect growth performance in week 1. Oxidative stress significantly decreased the growth performance of piglets (P< 0·05). However, ArgH attenuated the negative effects of oxidative stress on feed intake and significantly increased the total antioxidant capacity in the liver under oxidative stress (P< 0·05). Both ArgM and ArgH enhanced the activities of plasma glutathione peroxidases and superoxide dismutases and decreased the IL-6 and TNF-α mRNA level in the liver under oxidative stress (P< 0·05). The present study not only shows that Arg can function as a potential nutrient to alleviate oxidative stress responses through the enhancement of antioxidant capacity, and inhibition of the expression of inflammatory cytokines, but the results also suggest that alleviation of oxidative stress responses using dietary nutrient components deserves further attention in the future.
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