Finishing pigs that are divergent in feed efficiency show small differences in intestinal functionality and structure
AuthorMetzler-Zebeli, Barbara U.
Lawlor, Peadar G
McCormack, Ursula M.
Aschenbach, Jorg R.
residual feed intake (RFI)
visceral organ size
mucosal enzyme activity
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CitationMetzler-Zebeli BU, Lawlor PG, Magowan E, McCormack UM, Curião T, Hollmann M, et al. (2017) Finishing pigs that are divergent in feed efficiency show small differences in intestinal functionality and structure. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0174917. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174917
AbstractControversial information is available regarding the feed efficiency-related variation in intestinal size, structure and functionality in pigs. The present objective was therefore to investigate the differences in visceral organ size, intestinal morphology, mucosal enzyme activity, intestinal integrity and related gene expression in low and high RFI pigs which were reared at three different geographical locations (Austria, AT; Northern Ireland, NI; Republic of Ireland, ROI) using similar protocols. Pigs (n = 369) were ranked for their RFI between days 42 and 91 postweaning and low and high RFI pigs (n = 16 from AT, n = 24 from NI, and n = 60 from ROI) were selected. Pigs were sacrificed and sampled on ~day 110 of life. In general, RFI-related variation in intestinal size, structure and function was small. Some energy saving mechanisms and enhanced digestive and absorptive capacity were indicated in low versus high RFI pigs by shorter crypts, higher duodenal lactase and maltase activity and greater mucosal permeability (P < 0.05), but differences were mainly seen in pigs from AT and to a lesser degree in pigs from ROI. Additionally, low RFI pigs from AT had more goblet cells in duodenum but fewer in jejunum compared to high RFI pigs (P < 0.05). Together with the lower expression of TLR4 and TNFA in low versus high RFI pigs from AT and ROI (P < 0.05), these results might indicate differences in the innate immune response between low and high RFI pigs. Results demonstrated that the variation in the size of visceral organs and intestinal structure and functionality was greater between geographic location (local environmental factors) than between RFI ranks of pigs. In conclusion, present results support previous findings that the intestinal size, structure and functionality do not significantly contribute to variation in RFI of pigs.