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J Histochem Cytochem. 2014 Apr 7;62(7):510-518. [Epub ahead of print]

Intrauterine Growth Restriction Impairs Small Intestinal Mucosal Immunity in Neonatal Piglets.

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  • 1College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China (LD,XZ,HA,WL,YW,LZ,TW).
  • 2College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China (LD,XZ,HA,WL,YW,LZ,TW)


Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a very common problem in both piglet and human neonate populations. We hypothesized that IUGR neonates have impaired intestinal mucosal immunity from birth. Using neonatal piglets as IUGR models, immune organ weights, the weight and length of the small intestine (SI), intestinal morphology, intraepithelial immune cell numbers, levels of cytokines and immunoglobulins, and the relative gene expression of cytokines in the SI were investigated. IUGR neonatal piglets were observed to have lower absolute immune organ weight and SI length, decreased relative weights of the thymus, spleen, mesenteric lymph node, and thinner but longer SIs. Damaged and jagged villi, shorter microvilli, presence of autophagosomes, swelled mitochondria, and decreased villus surface areas were also found in the SIs of IUGR neonatal piglets. We also found a smaller number of epithelial goblet cells and lymphocytes in the SIs of IUGR neonates. In addition, we detected reduced levels of the cytokines TNF-α and IFN-γ and decreased gene expression of cytokines in IUGR neonates. In conclusion, IUGR was shown to impair the mucosal immunity of the SI in neonatal piglets, and the ileum was the major site of impairment.

© The Author(s) 2014.


IUGR; intestine; mucosal immunity; pigs

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