Background The process of weaning causes a major shift in intestinal microbiota and is a critical period for developing appropriate immune responses in young mammals.
Objective To use a new systems approach to provide an overview of host metabolism and the developing immune system in response to nutritional intervention around the weaning period.
Design Piglets (n=14) were weaned onto either an egg-based or soya-based diet at 3 weeks until 7 weeks, when all piglets were switched onto a fish-based diet. Half the animals on each weaning diet received Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 supplementation from weaning onwards. Immunoglobulin production from immunologically relevant intestinal sites was quantified and the urinary 1H NMR metabolic profile was obtained from each animal at post mortem (11 weeks).
Results Different weaning diets induced divergent and sustained shifts in the metabolic phenotype, which resulted in the alteration of urinary gut microbial co-metabolites, even after 4 weeks of dietary standardisation. B lactis NCC2818 supplementation affected the systemic metabolism of the different weaning diet groups over and above the effects of diet. Additionally, production of gut mucosa-associated IgA and IgM was found to depend upon the weaning diet and on B lactis NCC2818 supplementation.
Conclusion The correlation of urinary 1H NMR metabolic profile with mucosal immunoglobulin production was demonstrated, thus confirming the value of this multi-platform approach in uncovering non-invasive biomarkers of immunity. This has clear potential for translation into human healthcare with the development of urine testing as a means of assessing mucosal immune status. This might lead to early diagnosis of intestinal dysbiosis and with subsequent intervention, arrest disease development. This system enhances our overall understanding of pathologies under supra-organismal control.
- nuclear magnetic resonance
- intestinal tract
- mucosal immunology
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CAM and MCL contributed equally to this work.
Funding CAM, SPC, SSH and MED are funded by Nestlé through the Imperial College London/Nestlé strategic alliance (RDLS015375). Nestlé funds MCL through a collaboration with the University of Bristol.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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