The effect of maternal antibiotic use in sows on intestinal development in offspring

Astrid de Greeff, Dirkjan Schokker*, Petra Roubos-van den Hil, Peter Ramaekers, Stephanie A. Vastenhouw, Frank Harders, Alex Bossers, Mari A. Smits, Johanna M.J. Rebel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of a maternal antibiotic administration during the last week of gestation on the early life intestinal development in neonatal piglets. Colonization of the gut with bacteria starts during birth and plays a major role in the intestinal and immunological development of the intestine. We demonstrate that maternal interventions induced changes in the sows (n = 6 to 8 per treatment) fecal microbiota diversity around birth (P < 0.001, day 1). Whole-genome microarray analysis in small intestinal samples of 1-d old piglets (n = 6 to 8 per treatment) showed significantly expressed genes (Padj < 0.05) which were involved in processes of tight junction formation and immunoglobulin production. Furthermore, when performing morphometry analysis, the number of goblet cells in jejunum was significantly (P < 0.001) lower in piglets from amoxicillin administered sows compared with the respective control piglets. Both significantly expressed genes (Padj < 0.05) and significant morphometry data (jejunum P < 0.05 and ileum P < 0.01) indicate that the crypts of piglets from amoxicillin administered sows deepen around weaning (day 26) as an effect of the amoxicillin administration in sows. The latter might imply that the intestinal development of piglets was delayed by maternal antibiotic administration. Taken together, these results show that maternally oral antibiotic administration changes in early life can affect intestinal development of the offspring piglets for a period of at least 5 wk after the maternal antibiotic administration was finished. These results show that modulation of the neonatal intestine is possible by maternal interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • antibiotic
  • gut development
  • immune response
  • microbiota
  • piglets
  • transgenerational

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