Interpretive Summary: The effect of maternal antibiotic use in sows on intestinal development in offspring
By: Anne Wallace
Gut microbes have broad and profound impacts on all facets of health, including immunity, metabolism and digestion. Because the intestinal microbiome is colonized shortly after birth, any changes to the dietary intake of gestating sows may potentially have profound impacts on the health of their offspring.
In this July 2020 Journal of Animal Science study, researchers evaluated how administration of the broad spectrum antibiotic amoxicillin to sows during late gestation impacted the intestinal development of their piglets.
Sows were fed antibiotics seven days before gestation. Piglets were then studied for potential impacts to their intestinal microbiome, intestinal structure and gene expression, compared to a control group (not fed antibiotics). The fecal microbiome of sows fed antibiotics was different compared to the control group, although there was no difference in the microbiome compositions of their offspring. The weights and feed intake of sows and their piglets was unaffected. Gene expression for tight junctions and immunoglobulins was upregulated in piglets when sows were fed antibiotics. The structure of the jejunum was also altered, evidenced by less goblet cells, when compared to piglets in the control group.
Feeding amoxicillin to sows during late gestation affected the intestinal development of piglets in this study. Overall, the authors noted a delayed intestinal development. This finding was supported by the changes in gene expression profiles and an altered jejunal structure. Therefore, it is possible that administration of other antibiotics, probiotics, prebiotics, supplements, phytochemicals, or supplemental feed ingredients to sows in late gestation may also have the potential to alter the intestinal development of their piglets. These areas would be of interest in future studies.