• The Effect of Feeding Bt MON810 Maize to Pigs for 110 Days on Intestinal Microbiota

      Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Walsh, Maria C.; Rea, Mary; O'Sullivan, Orla; Crispie, Fiona; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Lawlor, Peadar G; European Union; et al. (PLOS, 04/05/2012)
      Objective To assess the effects of feeding Bt MON810 maize to pigs for 110 days on the intestinal microbiota. Methodology/Principal Findings Forty male pigs (~40 days old) were blocked by weight and litter ancestry and assigned to one of four treatments; 1) Isogenic maize-based diet for 110 days (Isogenic); 2) Bt maize-based diet (MON810) for 110 days (Bt); 3) Isogenic maize-based diet for 30 days followed by a Bt maize-based diet for 80 days (Isogenic/Bt); 4) Bt maize-based diet for 30 days followed by an isogenic maize-based diet for 80 days (Bt/Isogenic). Enterobacteriaceae, Lactobacillus and total anaerobes were enumerated in the feces using culture-based methods on days 0, 30, 60 and 100 of the study and in ileal and cecal digesta on day 110. No differences were found between treatments for any of these counts at any time point. The relative abundance of cecal bacteria was also determined using high-throughput 16 S rRNA gene sequencing. No differences were observed in any bacterial taxa between treatments, with the exception of the genus Holdemania which was more abundant in the cecum of pigs fed the isogenic/Bt treatment compared to pigs fed the Bt treatment (0.012 vs 0.003%; P≤0.05). Conclusions/Significance Feeding pigs a Bt maize-based diet for 110 days did not affect counts of any of the culturable bacteria enumerated in the feces, ileum or cecum. Neither did it influence the composition of the cecal microbiota, with the exception of a minor increase in the genus Holdemania. As the role of Holdemania in the intestine is still under investigation and no health abnormalities were observed, this change is not likely to be of clinical significance. These results indicate that feeding Bt maize to pigs in the context of its influence on the porcine intestinal microbiota is safe.
    • Effects of Feeding Bt Maize to Sows during Gestation and Lactation on Maternal and Offspring Immunity and Fate of Transgenic Material

      Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Walsh, Maria C.; Rea, Mary; O'Donovan, Orla; Gelencser, Eva; Ujhelyi, Gabriella; Szabo, Erika; Nagy, Andras; Ross, R Paul; Gardiner, Gillian E.; et al. (PLOS, 2012-10-16)
      Background: We aimed to determine the effect of feeding transgenic maize to sows during gestation and lactation on maternal and offspring immunity and to assess the fate of transgenic material. Methodology/Principal Findings: On the day of insemination, sows were assigned to one of two treatments (n = 12/treatment); 1) non-Bt control maize diet or 2) Bt-MON810 maize diet, which were fed for ~143 days throughout gestation and lactation. Immune function was assessed by leukocyte phenotyping, haematology and Cry1Ab-specific antibody presence in blood on days 0, 28 and 110 of gestation and at the end of lactation. Peripheral-blood mononuclear cell cytokine production was investigated on days 28 and 110 of gestation. Haematological analysis was performed on offspring at birth (n = 12/treatment). Presence of the cry1Ab transgene was assessed in sows' blood and faeces on day 110 of gestation and in blood and tissues of offspring at birth. Cry1Ab protein presence was assessed in sows' blood during gestation and lactation and in tissues of offspring at birth. Blood monocyte count and percentage were higher (P<0.05), while granulocyte percentage was lower (P<0.05) in Bt maize-fed sows on day 110 of gestation. Leukocyte count and granulocyte count and percentage were lower (P<0.05), while lymphocyte percentage was higher (P<0.05) in offspring of Bt maize-fed sows. Bt maize-fed sows had a lower percentage of monocytes on day 28 of lactation and of CD4+CD8+ lymphocytes on day 110 of gestation, day 28 of lactation and overall (P<0.05). Cytokine production was similar between treatments. Transgenic material or Cry1Ab-specific antibodies were not detected in sows or offspring. Conclusions/Significance: Treatment differences observed following feeding of Bt maize to sows did not indicate inflammation or allergy and are unlikely to be of major importance. These results provide additional data for Bt maize safety assessment.
    • Effects of Feeding Bt MON810 Maize to Pigs for 110 Days on Peripheral Immune Response and Digestive Fate of the cry1Ab Gene and Truncated Bt Toxin

      Walsh, Maria C.; Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Rea, Mary; O'Donovan, Orla; Gelencser, Eva; Ujhelyi, Gabriella; Ross, R Paul; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Lawlor, Peadar G; European Union; et al. (PLOS, 2012-05-04)
      Background: The objective of this study was to evaluate potential long-term (110 days) and age-specific effects of feeding genetically modified Bt maize on peripheral immune response in pigs and to determine the digestive fate of the cry1Ab gene and truncated Bt toxin. Methodology/Principal Findings: Forty day old pigs (n = 40) were fed one of the following treatments: 1) isogenic maize-based diet for 110 days (isogenic); 2) Bt maize-based diet (MON810) for 110 days (Bt); 3) Isogenic maize-based diet for 30 days followed by Bt maize-based diet for 80 days (isogenic/Bt); and 4) Bt maize-based diet (MON810) for 30 days followed by isogenic maize-based diet for 80 days (Bt/isogenic). Blood samples were collected during the study for haematological analysis, measurement of cytokine and Cry1Ab-specific antibody production, immune cell phenotyping and cry1Ab gene and truncated Bt toxin detection. Pigs were sacrificed on day 110 and digesta and organ samples were taken for detection of the cry1Ab gene and the truncated Bt toxin. On day 100, lymphocyte counts were higher (P<0.05) in pigs fed Bt/isogenic than pigs fed Bt or isogenic. Erythrocyte counts on day 100 were lower in pigs fed Bt or isogenic/Bt than pigs fed Bt/isogenic (P<0.05). Neither the truncated Bt toxin nor the cry1Ab gene were detected in the organs or blood of pigs fed Bt maize. The cry1Ab gene was detected in stomach digesta and at low frequency in the ileum but not in the distal gastrointestinal tract (GIT), while the Bt toxin fragments were detected at all sites in the GIT. Conclusions/Significance: Perturbations in peripheral immune response were thought not to be age-specific and were not indicative of Th 2 type allergenic or Th 1 type inflammatory responses. There was no evidence of cry1Ab gene or Bt toxin translocation to organs or blood following long-term feeding.
    • Evaluation of the Efficacy and Safety of a Marine-Derived Bacillus Strain for Use as an In-Feed Probiotic for Newly Weaned Pigs

      Prieto, Maria Luz; O'Sullivan, Laurie; Tan, Shiau Pin; McLoughlin, Peter; Hughes, Helen; O'Donovan, Orla; Rea, Mary; Kent, Robert M.; Cassidy, Joseph P.; Gardiner, Gillian E.; et al. (PLOS, 2014-02-26)
      Forty eight individual pigs (8.7±0.26 kg) weaned at 28±1 d of age were used in a 22-d study to evaluate the effect of oral administration of a Bacillus pumilus spore suspension on growth performance and health indicators. Treatments (n = 16) were: (1) non-medicated diet; (2) medicated diet with apramycin (200 mg/kg) and pharmacological levels of zinc oxide (2,500 mg zinc/kg) and (3) B. pumilus diet (non-medicated diet + 1010 spores/day B. pumilus). Final body weight and average daily gain tended to be lower (P = 0.07) and feed conversion ratio was worsened (P<0.05) for the medicated treatment compared to the B. pumilus treatment. Ileal E. coli counts were lower for the B. pumilus and medicated treatments compared to the non-medicated treatment (P<0.05), perhaps as a result of increased ileal propionic acid concentrations (P<0.001). However, the medicated treatment reduced fecal (P<0.001) and cecal (P<0.05) Lactobacillus counts and tended to reduce the total cecal short chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentration (P = 0.10). Liver weights were lighter and concentrations of liver enzymes higher (P<0.05) in pigs on the medicated treatment compared to those on the non-medicated or B. pumilus treatments. Pigs on the B. pumilus treatment had lower overall lymphocyte and higher granulocyte percentages (P<0.001) and higher numbers of jejunal goblet cells (P<0.01) than pigs on either of the other two treatments or the non-medicated treatment, respectively. However, histopathological examination of the small intestine, kidneys and liver revealed no abnormalities. Overall, the B. pumilus treatment decreased ileal E. coli counts in a manner similar to the medicated treatment but without the adverse effects on growth performance, Lactobacillus counts, cecal SCFA concentration and possible liver toxicity experienced with the medicated treatment.
    • Fate of Transgenic DNA from Orally Administered Bt MON810 Maize and Effects on Immune Response and Growth in Pigs

      Walsh, Maria C.; Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Rea, Mary; Gelencser, Eva; Janosi, Anna; Epstein, Michelle M.; Ross, R Paul; Lawlor, Peadar G; European Union; et al. (PLOS, 2011-11-23)
      We assessed the effect of short-term feeding of genetically modified (GM: Bt MON810) maize on immune responses and growth in weanling pigs and determined the fate of the transgenic DNA and protein in-vivo. Pigs were fed a diet containing 38.9% GM or non-GM isogenic parent line maize for 31 days. We observed that IL-12 and IFNγ production from mitogenic stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells decreased (P<0.10) following 31 days of GM maize exposure. While Cry1Ab-specific IgG and IgA were not detected in the plasma of GM maize-fed pigs, the detection of the cry1Ab gene and protein was limited to the gastrointestinal digesta and was not found in the kidneys, liver, spleen, muscle, heart or blood. Feeding GM maize to weanling pigs had no effect on growth performance or body weight. IL-6 and IL-4 production from isolated splenocytes were increased (P<0.05) in response to feeding GM maize while the proportion of CD4+ T cells in the spleen decreased. In the ileum, the proportion of B cells and macrophages decreased while the proportion of CD4+ T cells increased in GM maize-fed pigs. IL-8 and IL-4 production from isolated intraepithelial and lamina propria lymphocytes were also increased (P<0.05) in response to feeding GM maize. In conclusion, there was no evidence of cry1Ab gene or protein translocation to the organs and blood of weaning pigs. The growth of pigs was not affected by feeding GM maize. Alterations in immune responses were detected; however, their biologic relevance is questionable.