Body weight of newborn and suckling piglets affects their intestinal gene expression

Sandra Villagomez-Estrada, Jose F. Perez, Diego Melo-Duran, Francesc Gonzalez-Sole, Matilde D'Angelo, Francisco J. Perez-Cano, David Sola-Oriol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Modern hyperprolific sows must deal with large litters (16-20 piglets) which reduce piglet birthweight with a concomitant increase in the proportion of small and intrauterine growth retarded piglets. However, larger litters do not only have a greater variation of piglet weights, but also a greater variation in colostrum and milk consumption within the litter. To further understand the impact that body weight has on piglets, the present study aimed to evaluate the degree of physiological weakness of the smallest piglets at birth and during the suckling period (20 d) compared to their middle-weight littermates through their jejunal gene expression. At birth, light piglets showed a downregulation of genes related to immune response (FAXDC2, HSPB1, PPARGC1?), antioxidant enzymes (SOD2m), digestive enzymes (ANPEP, IDO1, SI), and nutrient transporter (SLC39A4) (P < 0.05) but also a tendency for a higher mRNA expression of GBP1 (inflammatory regulator) and HSD11?1 (stress hormone) genes compared to their heavier littermates (P < 0.10). Excluding HSD11?1 gene, all these intestinal gene expression differences initially observed at birth between light and middle-weight piglets were stabilized at the end of the suckling period, when others appeared. Genes involved in barrier function (CLDN1), pro-inflammatory response (CXCL2, IL6, IDO1), and stress hormone signaling (HSD11?1) over-expressed compared to their middle-weight littermates (P < 0.05). In conclusion, at birth and at the end of suckling period, light body weight piglets seem to have a compromised gene expression and therefore impaired nutrient absorption, immune and stress responses compared to their heavier littermates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberskac161
JournalJournal of animal Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2022


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Animals, Suckling
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Weight
  • Colostrum
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Hormones
  • Lactation
  • Pregnancy
  • Swine/genetics


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