Prebiotic fiber may boost growth and immune function in infants: Piglet data

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStockPhoto
Image: iStockPhoto

Related tags: Immune system

Early supplementation with prebiotic short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS) may enhance the response to vaccinations and promote growth, says a new study with piglets.

Data published in the Journal of Functional Foods​ indicated that prebiotic supplementation of mother during pregnancy and lactation, and then of the offspring after weaning produced significantly improved responses to flu vaccine, and improved growth.

“Our results confirm the functional activity of scFOS as immune- and growth-modulators according to a period-specific dependent effect,” ​wrote researchers from INRA Saint Gilles, France and prebiotic supplier Tereos. “It agrees with the potential interest of supplementing formula with scFOS to favor immune response in infants.”

Study details

Led by Cindy Le Bourgot at INRA Saint Gilles, the researchers divided 17 sows into two groups: One group received the standard diet and the other had its diet supplemented with scFOS (Profeed P95, Beghin-Meiji) for the last 4 weeks of gestation and during lactation. After weaning, piglets from each litter have been divided into two groups, and received either the diet or the scFOS supplemented diet for 7 weeks. The piglets were given a flu vaccine on day 35 and day 56

Results indicated that the post-weaning scFOS diet was associated with increases in levels of anti-influenza IgA (markers of the immune response) in pig serum and feces.

“This is an important finding because the protection against pathogens that penetrate the respiratory tract mucosa, such as the influenza virus, requires responses from both mucosal and systemic compartments of the adaptive immune system,” ​wrote the researchers.

On the other hand, no effects on immune function were observed as a result of maternal scFOS supplementation only. However, maternal supplementation did prevent some of the decrease in growth observed after vaccination, and also resulted in a higher body weight at 10 weeks of age.

Source: Journal of Functional Foods
June 2016, Volume 24, Pages 307-315, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2016.04.018
“Short-chain fructooligosaccharide supplementation during  gestation and lactation or after weaning differentially impacts pig growth and IgA response to influenza vaccination”
Authors: C. Le Bourgot et al. 

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