Early supplementation of scFOS benefits piglets

04-07-2016 | |
Early supplementation of scFOS profit piglets. Photo Hans Prinsen
Early supplementation of scFOS profit piglets. Photo Hans Prinsen

A recent study published in Journal of Functional Foods demonstrates a potential interest of early supplementation in short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS) to enhance vaccine response, to promote growth and health, both in animal and human nutrition.

The study, conducted by Cindy Le Bourgot at INRA Saint Gilles, France, in partnership with the prebiotic fibre producer Tereos, investigated in pigs the effects of maternal and post-weaning scFOS supplementation on humoral response of piglets after influenza vaccination.

The response to conventional vaccine is much lower in neonates than in adults, due to immature immune structures in neonates. Gut microbial stimulation provides the strongest environmental signal for post-natal maturation of the intestinal immune system. It is also an important factor for efficiency of intestinal immune system with regard to vaccine and allergy responses. It was already well-known that prebiotic fibres scFOS in the maternal diet during gestation and lactation positively modulate gut microbiota and maturation of the intestinal immune system in the offspring.

In this new study, 17 sows received a standard or a scFOS supplemented diet for the last 4 weeks of gestation and during lactation. After weaning, piglets from each litter have been divided into 2 groups to receive either a standard or a scFOS supplemented diet for 7 weeks. On day 35 and day 56, piglets received a vaccine against Influenza. Post-weaning scFOS diet increased the levels of anti-influenza IgA (markers of the immune response) in pig serum and faeces. On the other hand, maternal scFOS supplementation moderated the decrease of piglet growth after vaccination and further resulted in a higher body weight at 10 weeks of age.

These results confirm the functional activity of scFOS as an immune- and growth-modulator according to a period-specific dependent effect. It reinforces the interest of supplementing infant formula with scFOS to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, increase the diversity of the gut microflora and promote the immune response in infants. For breeding, scFOS supplementation may be 1 of the nutritional answers to reduce the use of antibiotics. A new study is currently being performed to determine if scFOS have an impact on immune response against bacteria with specific intestinal tropism.

Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor