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This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 90 No. 8, p. 2652-2662
    Received: June 17, 2011
    Accepted: Feb 15, 2012
    Published: January 20, 2015

    3 Corresponding author(s):


Barley-derived β-glucans increases gut permeability, ex vivo epithelial cell binding to E. coli, and naïve T-cell proportions in weanling pigs1,2

  1. J. B. Ewaschuk*,
  2. I. R. Johnson*,
  3. K. L. Madsen,
  4. T. Vasanthan*,
  5. R. Ball* and
  6. C. J. Field 3
  1. *Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2P5, Canada; and
    †Division of Gastroenterology, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2N8, Canada


Weaning in young animals is associated with an increased incidence of gastrointestinal infections. β-glucans exert numerous physiological effects, including altering immune function. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of feeding barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)-derived β-glucans on immune and intestinal function in weanling pigs (Sus scrofa). Thirty-one individually-housed Dutch Landrace pigs (21 d; initial BW, 6,298 ± 755 g) were weaned and fed a wheat-based diet (control) or a low (Lo-BG), medium (Med-BG), or high β-glucan-containing barley-based diet (Hi-BG) for 2 wk with 7 or 8 pigs/treatment. Intestinal segments were analyzed for permeability using Ussing chambers and K88 Escherichia coli adhesion to enterocytes was assessed ex vivo. Immune cells from mesenteric lymph nodes, peripheral blood, and Peyer's patches were analyzed for lymphocyte subsets by indirect immunofluorescence and the ability to respond ex vivo to mitogens by 3H-thymidine incorporation. Hematology and neutrophil function were determined by flow cytometry. Neutrophil burst, size, and granularity, lymphocyte proliferation, and B-cell distribution in peripheral blood lympocytes, Peyer's patches, and mesenteric lymph nodes were not affected by β-glucans content of the diet. The β-glucans content of the diet altered blood concentrations of erythrocytes and leukocytes, CD4, CD45RA, and CD8 blood cells (P < 0.05). In addition, feeding β-glucan resulted in increased (P < 0.05) percentage CD45RA positive cells in peripheral blood lympocytes, Peyer's patches, and mesenteric lymph nodes. Mannitol permeability and tissue conductance were increased (P < 0.05) in Hi-BG fed pigs compared with control pigs. Percentage maximum K88-E.coli binding was increased in proportion to the β-glucan content of the diet (P < 0.05). Although β-glucan feeding during the weaning period increased blood lymphocytes and the proportion of naïve T-cells, it also increased E. coli-enterocyte binding and intestinal permeability. β-glucan may alter immune and intestinal function of weaning pigs.

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Copyright © 2012. American Society of Animal Science