September 14, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Effects of iron on intestinal development and epithelial maturation of suckling piglets

Interpretive Summary: Effects of iron on intestinal development and epithelial maturation of suckling piglets

By Anne Zinn

The gut development and maturation of piglets can change widely during the suckling period, with rapid growth of the gastrointestinal tract, reducing villus height, increasing crypt depth, and mitotic index, reducing maltase and sucrase activities, and reducing vacuolating epithelial cells and vacuole size. The rate of vacuole disappearance is closely related to the maturation of the intestine, but due to early weaning in piglet production, the gut cannot develop naturally; the immaturity of the gastrointestinal tract then means piglets are unable to adapt to external environmental stimuli, when weaned at 21 days, resulting in intestinal morphology damage, decreasing feed intake, and diarrhea. This could be caused by an  iron deficiency. Therefore, a recent study published in the Journal of Animal Science aimed to determine intestinal organ indices, intestinal morphology, and epithelial maturation markers in suckling piglets. Based on previous research, the team hypothesized that iron supplementation may improve intestinal development and epithelial maturation of piglets during the suckling period.

Results of the study indicate that both oral administration and intramuscular injection iron supplementation is capable of modulating intestinal development by increasing intestinal length and weight, improving intestinal morphology, and promoting epithelial maturation in suckling piglets. Additionally, no significant difference in the expression of the target genes of wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway was observed, meaning the effects of iron on intestinal development and epithelial maturation are independent of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. More studies are needed to reveal the mechanism of iron on intestinal development and epithelial maturation.

This paper will soon be available in the Journal of Animal Science