Development of intestinal immunoglobulin absorption and enzyme activities in neonatal pigs is diet dependent

J Nutr. 2001 Dec;131(12):3259-65. doi: 10.1093/jn/131.12.3259.


Uptake of colostrum just after birth is essential to stimulate intestinal growth and function, and in many species, including pigs, colostrum also provides immunological protection via the absorption of immunoglobulin G (IgG). In this study, intestinal growth, IgG absorptive capacity and enzyme activities were investigated in newborn pigs in response to different diets. Newborn piglets were bottle-fed porcine colostrum (PC), bovine colostrum (BC), porcine plasma (PP), porcine milk (PM), bovine colostrum containing porcine plasma (BCP) or a milk replacer (MR) every 3 h (15 mL/kg) for up to 2 d. Bovine serum albumin (BSA) was added to the diets as a macromolecule marker. The percentage of absorbed BSA just after birth was highest for piglets fed the PC diet (30-50%), lower for those fed the BC and BCP diets (23-30%) and lowest for the PP, PM and MR diet-fed piglets (7-20%, P < 0.05 relative to those fed colostrum). Porcine IgG was absorbed more efficiently than bovine IgG. Intestinal closure occurred earlier in MR and BCP piglets (within 12 h after birth) than in PC pigs. At 2 d of age, intestinal mucosal weight (+120% increase from birth) and villus morphology were similar in the PC, BCP and MR groups. All 3 groups also had increased aminopeptidase A activity compared with values at birth (+100% increase). Compared with PC pigs, the BCP group had higher sucrase and maltase activities (+50% and +200%, respectively) and lower aminopeptidase N activity (-50%, P < 0.05). Similarly, MR pigs showed elevated sucrase activity (+40%) and lowered maltase, lactase and aminopeptidase N activities (-20% to -50%, P < 0.05) compared with PC pigs. We conclude that porcine and bovine colostrum contain factors that stimulate the intestinal endocytotic and enzymatic capacity in newborn pigs. A milk replacer can produce normal gut growth, but may be inefficient in mediating normal macromolecule transport and disaccharidase activity. Bovine colostrum mixed with porcine plasma proteins may be a useful substitute for porcine colostrum in artificial rearing of newborn pigs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminopeptidases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / immunology*
  • CD13 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Colostrum
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Glutamyl Aminopeptidase
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / administration & dosage
  • Immunoglobulin A / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestinal Mucosa / growth & development
  • Intestines / anatomy & histology
  • Intestines / enzymology*
  • Intestines / growth & development*
  • Organ Size
  • Serum Albumin / pharmacokinetics
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / pharmacokinetics
  • Sucrase / metabolism
  • Swine / growth & development
  • Swine / immunology*
  • alpha-Glucosidases / metabolism


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Serum Albumin
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • alpha-Glucosidases
  • Sucrase
  • Aminopeptidases
  • CD13 Antigens
  • Glutamyl Aminopeptidase