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Background: Immediately after birth, the porcine intestine rapidly develops morphologically, functionally, and immunologically. The jejunum, the second part of the small intestine, is of importance for nutrient uptake and immune surveillance. To study the early postnatal development of the jejunum, a meta-analysis was performed on different transcriptomic datasets. These datasets were acquired from different experimental in-house studies or from experiments described in literature of porcine jejunum mucosa. Gene expression was measured under different experimental interventions, such as nutritional intervention, at various time-points (age). Results: The studies included in the meta-analysis provided gene expression data for various time-points (piglet ages) for piglets that had received a treatment versus control piglets. In separate studies, treatments were administered to the sow (i.e. amoxicillin), or nutritional supplementation directly to the piglets with medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), and oral administration of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) or a high dose of zinc-oxide, respectively. In the meta-analysis, genes were grouped into 16 clusters according to their temporal gene expression profiles for control piglets, i.e. the changes of gene expression level over time. Functional analysis showed that these temporal profile clusters had different dominant processes, such as immune related processes or barrier function. Transcriptomics data of treatment piglets was subsequently superimposed over the control temporal profiles. In this way we could investigate which temporal profile clusters (and which biological processes) were modulated by the treatments. Interestingly, not all 16 temporal profiles were modulated. Conclusions: We showed that it is possible to re-use (publicly available) transcriptomics data and produce temporal gene expression profiles for control piglets with overexpression of genes representing specific biological processes. Subsequently, by superimposing gene expression data from (nutritional) intervention studies we observed deviations from some of these reference profile(s) and thus the plasticity of the system. By employing this meta-analysis approach we highlighted the importance of birth and weaning and the underlying biological processes.
- Gene expression
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