Maximising the ability of piglets to survive exposure to pathogens is essential to reduce early piglet mortality, an important factor in efficient commercial pig production. Mortality rates can be influenced by many factors, including early colonization by microbial commensals. Here we describe the development of an intestinal microbiota, the Bristol microbiota, for use in gnotobiotic pigs and its influence on synthesis of systemic immunoglobulins. Such a microbiota will be of value in studies of the consequences of early microbial colonization on development of the intestinal immune system and subsequent susceptibility to disease.Gnotobiotic pig studies lack a well-established intestinal microbiota. The use of the Altered Schaedler Flora (ASF), a murine intestinal microbiota, to colonize the intestines of Caesarean-derived, gnotobiotic pigs prior to gut closure, resulted in unreliable colonization with most (but not all) strains of the ASF. Subsequently, a novel, simpler porcine microbiota was developed. The novel microbiota reliably colonized the length of the intestinal tract when administered to gnotobiotic piglets. No health problems were observed, and the novel microbiota induced a systemic increase in serum immunoglobulins, in particular IgA and IgM. The Bristol microbiota will be of value for highly controlled, reproducible experiments of the consequences of early microbial colonization on susceptibility to disease in neonatal piglets, and as a biomedical model for the impact of microbial colonization on development of the intestinal mucosa and immune system in neonates.
- Intestinal microbiota