Development of an antioxidant system after early weaning in piglets

J Anim Sci. 2014 Feb;92(2):612-9. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-6986. Epub 2013 Dec 18.


The objective of this experiment was to investigate oxidative injury and the development of an antioxidant system after early weaning in piglets. A total of 40 piglets (Landrace× Large White, weaned at 14 d after birth) were randomly slaughtered 0 (w0d), 1 (w1d), 3 (w3d), 5 (w5d), or 7 d (w7d; n = 8) after weaning. Concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA), 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), and protein carbonyl and the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and catalase were measured in plasma. Gene expressions of antioxidant enzymes were determined by quantitative reverse transcription PCR analysis. The mediation of transcription factor 65 (p65) and the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling pathways by oxidative stress was determined by Western blot analysis. Results showed that the plasma MDA level was significantly higher at 3 d (P < 0.05) and that the protein carbonyl level increased at 1, 3, and 5 d (P < 0.05) compared with w0d. In addition, early weaning suppressed the plasma activity of SOD at 1 d (P < 0.05) and reduced the GSH-Px activity at 3 d (P < 0.05). The expression results in the jejunum indicate that the genes related to antioxidant enzymes were downregulated (P < 0.05) at 3 and 5 d after weaning. Uncoupling protein 2 (Ucp2), which is considered to be a feedback regulation on reactive oxygen species generation, tended to decrease in the ileum (P < 0.05) after weaning. Tumor protein 53 (p53), which regulates reactive oxygen species generation, was enhanced (P < 0.05) in the jejunum after weaning. Meanwhile, early weaning suppressed p65 (at 3, 5, and 7 d; P < 0.05) and Nrf2 (at 5 and 7 d; P < 0.05) signals in the jejunum, which might feedback-regulate antioxidant gene expression and promote the development of the antioxidant system. Therefore, we speculate that weaning disrupted oxidative balance and caused oxidative injury in piglets, and this imbalance can recover with the development of an antioxidant system via feedback regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Swine / metabolism*
  • Weaning*


  • Antioxidants