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J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2017 Jan-Mar;31(1):87-92.

The pig as a model for premature infants - the importance of immunoglobulin supplementation for growth and development.

Author information

Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden.
Department of Gastroenterology, Allergology and Pediatrics of the Polish Mother’s Memorial Hospital Research Institute, Lodz, Poland
SGPlus, Malmo, Sweden.
Innovation Centre – STB, Tczew, Poland.
Department of Medical Biology, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Department of Animal Physiology, The Kielanowski Institute of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Sciences, National Research Institute of Animal Production, Balice, Poland


Preterm human neonates, contrary to preterm piglets, obtain immunoglobulins from their mothers via the placenta during intrauterine development. However, one should note that the majority of trans-placental transfer of immunoglobulins in humans takes place during the last trimester of pregnancy. It is also known that the feeding of limited amounts of colostrum or systemic infusion of small amounts of serum improves the survival of preterm and full-term piglets. Full-term piglets deprived of their mother’s immunoglobulins exhibit strong apathy and develop watery diarrhoea, often resulting in death. The aim of the current study was to determine if provision of immunoglobulins using different approaches would be beneficial for survival outcomes. To reach the immunological sufficient level we infused immunoglobulins intravenously in amount mimicking the blood level in piglets fed with sow colostrum. Intravenous infusion of immunoglobulins in both preterm and full-term newborn piglets fully ensured their survival, growth and blood immunoglobulin G and protein levels similar to those observed in piglets fed colostrum. Piglets completely deprived of immunoglobulins exhibited significantly lower blood levels of immunoglobulins and protein compared to colostrum-fed animals. Piglets infused with only serum exhibited significantly lower blood immunoglobulin G level compared to those infused with immunoglobulins. In conclusion, based on the data obtained, we suggest that passive immune support provided by colostrum intake or early systemic infusion of Ig’s in sufficient amounts is key to ensuring the general well-being of preterm and full-term new born piglets, used as an animal model for the human infant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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