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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2005 May 1;105(1-2):151-61.

Influence of a probiotic Enterococcus faecium strain on development of the immune system of sows and piglets.

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Institute of Immunology and Molecular Biology, Philippstrasse 13, D-10115 Berlin, Germany.


The influence of the probiotic bacterium Enterococcus faecium SF68 on the immune system and the intestinal colonization of pigs were determined in a feeding experiment with sows and piglets. Mucosal immunity of the developing piglets was monitored by isolation and detection of intestinal lymphocyte cell populations from the proximal jejunal epithelium and the continuous Peyers patches by the use of flow cytometry. The levels of intestinal IgA in both groups of piglets were compared, as well as total IgG in the serum of sows and piglets. Feces of the sows and intestinal contents of the piglets were taken for determination of total anaerobe and coliform bacterial counts in both probiotic and control groups. Villus length and depth of the crypts were measured in the jejunum of sacrificed piglets to monitor the development of the intestinal mucosal surface amplification. Total serum IgG of the sows appeared to be unaffected. Piglets of both groups showed similar IgG levels up to 5 weeks after birth with a slight tendency toward lower values in the probiotic group. At an age of 8 weeks the total IgG levels of the probiotic animals were significantly lower (p<0.01). No differences were observed in the populations of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the Peyers patches. However, the levels of cytotoxic T cells (CD8+) in the jejunal epithelium of piglets of the probiotic group were significantly reduced. The depth of the jejunal crypts and length of the villi were similar in both groups, suggesting the relative T-cell population differences were not due to alterations in the epithelial cell numbers. The total anaerobe and coliform bacterial populations were not significantly affected by the probiotic treatment, either in sows or in the piglets. However, a remarkable decline in the frequency of beta-haemolytic and O141 serovars of Escherichia coli was observed in the intestinal contents of probiotic piglets, suggesting an explanation for the reduction in cytotoxic T-cell populations.

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