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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2009 Mar 15;128(1-3):60-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2008.10.311. Epub 2008 Oct 17.

Effect of beta-glucans on an ETEC infection in piglets.

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Laboratory of Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Biology of Large Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UGent, Salisburylaan 133, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


The effect of orally administered beta-glucans in protecting pigs against an ETEC infection after weaning was analysed in this study. Three beta-glucans that differed in origin (Saccharomyces cerevisiae (MCG (Macrogard) and G2) or Sclerotium rolfsii (G3)) and/or extraction procedure were tested. Pigs fed for 2 weeks after weaning with these glucans were less susceptible to an F4+ ETEC infection in comparison with the control group. This was evidenced by a reduction in the faecal excretion of F4+ Escherichia coli as well as a reduced F4-specific serum antibody response. This decrease in faecal excretion was statistically significant for pigs fed with the MCG glucan in a first experiment and with the G3 glucan in a second experiment; diarrhoea was milder in the glucan-supplemented groups and was significantly reduced in the MCG-supplemented group. Furthermore, a lower amount of F4-specific IgM antibody-secreting cells (ASC) was found in the lymphoid tissues of pigs fed with G2 or G3 glucans in comparison with the control pig, as well as lower F4-specific IgA ASC in G3-fed pigs in comparison with the control pig. This study showed that beta-glucans can protect against an ETEC infection. Both MCG from S. cerevisiae and G3 from S. rolfsii, resulted in significant effects. To our knowledge, this is the first in vivo study, in which the use of beta-glucans as feed ingredient for just-weaned piglets was tested for their protective effects against ETEC infection.

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