Interpretive Summary: The effect of chronic, non-pathogenic maternal immune activation on offspring postnatal muscle and immune outcomes
By: Erin E Bryan, Nick M Bode, Xuenan Chen, Elli S Burris, Danielle C Johnson, Ryan N Dilger, Anna C Dilger
Maternal inflammation or immune activation impacts fetal development and subsequently the offspring’s postnatal performance. In particular, maternal immune activation may be detrimental to fetal muscle development and alter postnatal immune responses, both of which are vital in determining livestock efficiency. However, understanding the relationship between maternal immune activation and offspring development is difficult as many models use a live pathogen. This introduces many confounding factors, including increased mortality, persistent postnatal infection, and potential copathogens. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the effect of maternal inflammation on offspring muscle development and postnatal inflammatory response using repeated injections of a nonpathogenic immune stimulant. Each injection successfully induced an inflammatory response as indicated by increased rectal temperature and circulating inflammatory markers. The gestational challenge did not result in increased litter mortality. Further, muscle development was not altered in piglets exposed to gestational inflammation. However, when challenged with the same immune stimulant given to the dams, pigs exposed to maternal inflammation had a remarkably suppressed immune response compared to controls. Overall, maternal inflammation independent of infection affected offspring immune function, but not muscle development.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.