November 29, 2018

Interpretive Summary: EGF supernatant on pig performance and ileal microbiota

Interpretive Summary: The impact of epidermal growth factor supernatant on pig performance and ileal microbiota.

In this June 2018 article published in Translational Animal Science, researchers studied how epidermal growth factor (EGF) supplementation in weaning pigs affected growth performance and gut microbiota.

Gut microbiota is well known to contribute to the health and performance of livestock animals, including pigs. During the sensitive weaning period, any detrimental changes to the gut microbiota may in turn have negative effects on gut health and growth performance. Previously, antibiotics were readily usable to enhance growth performance, however, other ways to maintain gut health and performance are now needed. The authors of this study chose to study feed supplementation with EGF, a growth hormone that is plentiful in milk, in weaning pigs to determine if EGF might provide any beneficial effects.

In this study, weaning pigs approximately 20 days of age were studied for a total of 21 days. Pigs were separated into two blocks with 36 pigs per treatment group. Each group was fed one of two diets. The control diet included Picha pastoris yeast fermentation supernatant. The treatment diet included P. pastoris yeast fermentation supernatant with added EGF. Pigs were otherwise fed standard diets compliant with National Research Council requirements.

Results indicated that EGF treated pigs had a higher daily gain and final body weight at the end of the study. Diversity scores and phylum-level relative abundance for gut microbiota however were not significantly different between pigs fed EGF versus the controls diet. However, at the genus level, there were significant differences in the treatment group, as follows: Corynebacterium, Blautia, and Coprococcus bacteria were significantly reduced and at the family level, Ruminococcaceae were significantly reduced. The authors noted these microbes correlated negatively with growth performance.

Overall, this study suggests there is need for a more detailed look into the effects EGF may have on piglet growth performance and gut health. The results of this study suggest EGF may change gut microbiota composition at the genus and family level and may have the potential to benefit the growth performance of weaning pigs, however, the mechanism for these benefits were not elucidated in this study. Further and repeated studies into the effects of EGF on gut microbial metabolites, such as changes to volatile fatty acid concentration, or effects on gut epithelial health (e.g. gut barrier, gene regulation, or pH) may be warranted in order to better understand these results and how they may be applied to benefit weaning pigs on a more widespread scale. 

To view the article, “The impact of epidermal growth factor supernatant on pig performance and ileal microbiota,” visit Translational Animal Science.