Escherichia coli challenge in newborn pigs

M. L. Jensen, Malene Skovsted Cilieborg, M. V. Østergaard, S. B. Bering, C. B. Jørgensen, P. T. Sangild

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Escherichia coli F18 is a common porcine enteric pathogen causing diarrhea and edema in weaned pigs. An essential step in the pathogenesis of this enteric colibacillosis is a fimbria–receptor interaction in the small intestine, involving the α(1,2)-fucosyltransferase gene (FUT1) enzyme for bacterial receptor binding to the epithelium. Enzyme expression is genetically determined and increases after weaning at 3 to5 wk, probably due to age- and/or diet-related intestinal maturation. We hypothesized that artificially reared piglets, deprived of sow’s milk from birth, show susceptibility to F18 already in the neonatal period. First we verified the intestinal expression of FUT1 in preterm, term, and weaned pigs by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Then age-related F18 susceptibility (degree of diarrhea) was evaluated in 3-, 10-, and 20-d-old pigs after inoculation of 1010 cfu E. coli F18 per day for 12 d. Finally, F18 susceptibility was evaluated in caesarean-delivered 0- to 7-d-old piglets inoculated daily with F18 as above. For all pigs, their sows were genotyped to ensure expression of the FUT1 enzyme. FUT1 expression was detected in the proximal and distal small intestine with no apparent differences in levels among preterm, term, and weaned pigs. No consistent F18-induced diarrhea was detected in any of the 3 groups of 3- to 20-d-old pigs. In contrast, 0- to 7-d-old caesarean-delivered pigs showed a higher score of diarrhea in pigs inoculated with F18 compared with controls (2.4 ± 0.1 vs. 1.8 ± 0.1 respectively; P < 0.001). Caesarean-delivered piglets deprived of sow milk are highly susceptible to diarrhea induced by E. coli F18. Lack of the protective effects of birth colonization and sow milk may contribute to high intestinal F18 sensitivity. The newborn pig may be a useful model to investigate factors in maternal milk that protect against F18 diarrhea.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)43-45
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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