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Weaning diet induces sustained metabolic phenotype shift in the pig and influences host response to Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818
  1. Claire Alexandra Merrifield1,
  2. Marie Claire Lewis2,
  3. Sandrine Paule Claus1,3,
  4. Jake Thomas Midwinter Pearce1,
  5. Olivier Cloarec4,
  6. Swantje Duncker5,
  7. Silke Sophie Heinzmann1,
  8. Marc-Emmanuel Dumas1,
  9. Sunil Kochhar5,
  10. Serge Rezzi5,
  11. Annick Mercenier5,
  12. Jeremy Kirk Nicholson1,
  13. Mick Bailey2,
  14. Elaine Holmes1
  1. 1Biomolecular Medicine, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2Infection and Immunity, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, North Somerset, UK
  3. 3Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, UK
  4. 4Korrigan Sciences Ltd., Maidenhead, UK
  5. 5Nestlé Research Centre, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Professor Elaine Holmes, Biomolecular Medicine, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK; elaine.holmes{at}


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.

  • Probiotics
  • nutrition
  • 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.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. The author name Marc Dumas has been amended to Marc-Emmanuel Dumas.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.