Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization -
International Vaccine Centre

Assess regional and kinetic changes in gut permeability and the mechanisms of transport across the piglet gut wall

Project Team: Heather L. Wilson, S. Hon Ng

In utero, piglets do not share circulation with the sow and therefore do not receive maternal antibodies. Piglets are born immunologically naïve and must ingest colostrum to receive passive immunity. The piglet gut is reported to be semi-permeable for the first hours after birth. This facilitates the uptake of colostrum-derived cells and macromolecules (e.g. antibodies, cytokines, antimicrobial peptides, etc.). After this brief period of time, the gut undergoes a maturation process and is no longer semi-permeable.

We intend to understand the physiological and biological changes that take place in the piglet gut during the transition from a semi-permeable to a 'closed' state. Research in our lab shows there are changes in the localization of proteins that maintain the Tight Junctions (TJs) between the gut wall epithelial cells within the first days of life. These changes may contribute to the transition from a semi-permeable gut to a mature gut.

This program is focused on determining the basic biology behind changes in gut permeability after birth and to determine the mechanism of maternal cells/macromolecules uptake across the gut wall.