Nutritional strategy affects gut wall integrity in weaned piglets

J.M.A.J. Verdonk

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Weaning is a stressful event for pigs and induces changes in the gut integrity of pigs. Feed intake is a very important determinant for gut integrity. In this thesis the effect of nutritional strategies (with regard to feed intake level and physical structure of the feed) on changes in gut morphology, barrier function and inflammatory response were investigated. In the experiments individually housed piglets were fed diets at different intake levels with different physical forms and compositions during 4 to 14 days post weaning. The working hypotheses were that high feed intake minimizes the degeneration of the gut integrity and stimulates the regeneration of a compromised integrity.Weaning induced changes in gut integrity. Overall, feed intake level modulated parameters related to gut integrity like morphology, in vitro barrier function and inflammatory response. The effects found depended on sampling site in the gut and sampling day post weaning.Only the supply of reconstituted milk resulted in voluntary feed intake level sufficiently high to maintain gut integrity. In vitro paracellular permeability for small molecules was transiently increased after weaning, while permeability for large molecules was decreased. High intake feed (milk) resulted in lower permeability values compared to a low intake level.Changes in gut morphology and permeability were related to feed intake level. In most experiments, individual feed intake was also correlated with body weight gain and in some experiments with inflammatory response parameters. At a low feed intake level, gut barrier function was already affected at day 1 post weaning, followed by changes in gut morphology.Variation in parameters related to gut integrity between piglets within trials and between experiments was high making it very difficult to compare data of different experiments.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Verstegen, Martin, Promotor
  • Huisman, J., Co-promotor, External person
Award date18 Jan 2006
Place of Publication[S.l. ]
Print ISBNs9789085043461
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2006


  • piglets
  • weaning
  • milk
  • small intestine
  • physiological functions
  • feed intake
  • stomach
  • digestion
  • morphology
  • permeability
  • animal nutrition


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