Influence of vitamin D metabolites on vitamin D status, immunity and gut health of piglets

Pernille Aagaard Madsen, Stephane Etheve, Peter M H Heegaard, Kerstin Skovgaard, Anne-Lise Mary, Gilberto Litta, Charlotte Lauridsen*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

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Immediately post-weaning, piglets are prone to gastrointestinal infectious diseases. The active metabolite of vitamin D 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D has direct impact on immune cell function and responses. Thus, a low vitamin D status may compromise the immune responses during infectious diseases. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of supplementation of different forms of vitamin D (25-OH-D3 and vitamin D3) to suckling piglets' vitamin D status at weaning. In addition, to determine whether the vitamin D status could affect the immune development in piglets and their robustness against E. coli challenge. Genetically E. coli F4 susceptible litters of piglets were divided into two treatment groups: group 1 (n = 16) provided milk formula supplemented with vitamin D3 (CON), and group 2 (n = 16) provided milk formula supplemented with 25-OH-D3 (TREAT). Piglets were offered the experimental milk formulas from day 3 after farrowing until weaning (at day 28 of age). A commercial weaner diet with high protein content were provided to induce weaning stress. Milk formulas, sow and weaner diets as well as plasma and milk samples obtained from sows (n = 8) were analysed for vitamin D metabolites. Vitamin D status in piglets was investigated by collection of plasma samples on day 3, 15, 28 and 35 of age. Eight piglets randomly selected from each dietary group (in total 16 pigs) were inoculated with E. coli F4 O149 on day 2 and 3 post-weaning. Blood samples collected on day 2 and 9 post-weaning (pre- and post E. coli inoculation, respectively) were analysed for haematological and immunological parameters including immunoglobulins, antibodies specific to E. coli O149 K88, cytokines and C-reactive protein. In addition, intestinal samples were obtained one week after E. coli inoculation to study the influence of infection and vitamin D status on immune responses at different sites of the intestine. This was accomplished by gene expression of various cytokines and tight junction proteins. In general, vitamin D status of the piglets were low. However, piglets provided TREAT during the suckling period had increased vitamin D status at weaning compared to piglets provided CON. Vitamin D was used during activation of the immune system as pigs inoculated with E. coli had lower plasma concentrations of 25-OH-D3 than non-inoculated pigs possibly due to mobilising of vitamin D in the liver. Hence, increased vitamin D status at weaning might improve piglets' resistance to E. coli infection.
TidsskriftVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2023


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