Immunological traits have the potential to improve selection of pigs for resistance to clinical and subclinical disease

M. Henryon, Peter M. H. Heegaard, Jens Nielsen, P. Berg, H.R. Juul-Madsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    It was reasoned that, if we used a large sample of pigs, we could demonstrate that total and differential numbers of leukocytes, expression levels of swine leukocyte antigens (SLA) I and II, and serum concentrations of IgG and haptoglobin show additive genetic variation and are, therefore, potentially useful as criteria to improve selection of pigs for resistance to clinical and subclinical disease. We tested this premise by assessing 4204 male pigs from the Duroc, Landrace, and Yorkshire breeds for total and differential numbers of leukocytes and serum concentrations of IgG and haptoglobin; 1217 of the Duroc and Landrace pigs were also assessed for expression levels of SLA I and II. We estimated the amount of additive genetic variation by fitting linear animal models to the total and differential numbers of leukocytes and serum concentrations of IgG and haptoglobin. We fitted linear sire models to the expression levels of SLA I and II. We detected additive genetic variation for each group of traits. Total and differential numbers of leukocytes were moderately heritable (h(2) = 0.22 to 0.30), expression levels of SLA I and II were moderate-to-highly heritable (h(2) = 0.46 to 1.23), while serum concentrations of IgG and haptoglobin were lowly heritable (h(2) = 0.14 to 0.16). The additive genetic variation shown for the immunological traits is encouraging for pig breeders. It indicates that these traits are potentially useful as criteria to improve selection of pigs for resistance to clinical and subclinical disease.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAnimal Science
    Volume82
    Pages (from-to)597-606
    ISSN1357-7298
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

    Keywords

    • disease resistance
    • immunological factors
    • genetic variation
    • pigs
    • heritability
    • selection

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