April 14, 2019

Interpretive Summary: Effects of n-acetyl-cysteine on reproductive performance in sows

Interpretive Summary: Effects of n-acetyl-cysteine supplementation in late gestational diet on maternal-placental redox status, placental NLRP3 inflammasome, and fecal microbiota in sows.

By: Anne Wallace

Increased inflammation and oxidative stress can have detrimental effects on the reproductive performance of gestating sows. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a supplement with known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In this paper published in the April 2019 Journal of Animal Science, researchers studied how NAC supplementation affected placental inflammation, oxidative stress, fecal microbiota and reproductive performance in gestating sows.

A total of 16 sows (at day 85 of gestation) were split into two groups. Sows were fed one of two diets, as follows: (1) control basal diet, or (2) control basal diet with 0.5% NAC. Sows were fed these diets to day of delivery. Placental tissue, blood, and feces were collected for analysis.

No significant difference in the reproductive performance of sows fed NAC compared to the control group was noted in this study. However, there were significant differences in placental health and inflammatory and oxidative markers. For instance, in sows fed NAC, the (pro-inflammatory) maternal-placental NLRP3 inflammasome was inhibited, and oxidative stress was reduced—e.g., evidenced by an increase in intracellular antioxidants and decrease in the oxidative stress marker malondialdehyde. Additionally, significant changes in the fecal microbiome were noted. Increases in Prevotella, Clostridium cluster XIVa, and Roseburia/Eubacterium rectale occurred in pigs fed NAC. These microbial changes were correlated with inhibition of the placental NLRP3 inflammasome and increased placental nutrient transport.

Overall, this small study suggests that NAC may have the potential to improve placental health, evidenced by significant improvements in placental nutrient transport and oxidative and inflammatory status of gestating sows. However, larger studies to reconfirm these results are needed. Investigating the effects of a higher concentration of NAC may also be useful to better understand the utility of NAC and whether this supplement may have the potential to improve the reproductive performance of gestating sows.

To view the article, visit the Journal of Animal Science.