Feeding mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) can fine-tune the immune system of pigs, suggests a new University of Illinois study.
"When it comes to keeping pigs healthy, there are some potentially powerful tools we can use in the diet besides antibiotics," said James Pettigrew, U of I professor of animal science. "We have a tendency to think that we can administer health through a needle, by giving pigs antibiotics, and even through systems like all-in/all-out pig flow. These are important, but there are also many health benefits we can realize through the diet."
MOS is a product made from the cell wall of yeast. It contains carbohydrates that may provide special benefits, Pettigrew said. Previous research showed that it increased the growth rate in newly weaned pigs and changed the microbial populations in the digestive tract.
Tung Che, a postdoctoral research associate in Pettigrew's laboratory, led two studies looking at MOS and its effect on pigs experimentally infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV).
In these studies, researchers evaluated how feeding MOS can modulate immune responses in pigs infected with PRRSV.
"We found MOS can enhance immune responses in pigs, but it can also alleviate the overstimulation of the immune system," Che said. "MOS increases the total number of immune cells such as leukocytes and lymphocytes in the blood at the early stage of infection."
This could be quite a benefit for producers fighting PRRSV, a respiratory disease that causes a reduction of immune cells.
"This is important because the increase in leukocytes and lymphocytes can help the animal to fight not only PRRSV, but also secondary bacterial co-infections that are common with PRRSV," Che said.
Seven days after this PRRSV inoculation, pigs experienced a reduction of fever and had a better feed efficiency, indicating a reduction of ongoing inflammation.
|Contact: Jennifer Shike|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences