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This study was conducted to investigate the effects of early supplementation during 4 to 18 d of age with Lactobacillus plantarum (LP) in liquid diets on intestinal innate immune response in young piglets infected with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) K88. Seventy-two barrow piglets at 4 d old were assigned to basal or LP-supplemented liquid diet (5 × 1010 CFU·kg-1). On day 15, piglets from each group were orally challenged with either ETEC K88 (1 × 108 CFU·kg-1) or the same amount of phosphate-buffered saline. The intestinal mucosa, mesenteric lymph node (MLN), and spleen samples were collected on day 18. Here, we found that LP pretreatment significantly decreased the mRNA relative expression of inflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-1β, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α), porcine β-defensin 2 (pBD-2), and mucins (MUC1 and MUC4) in the jejunal mucosa in piglets challenged with ETEC K88 (P < 0.05). Moreover, LP significantly decreased the ileal mucosa mRNA relative expression of IL-8 and MUC4 in young piglets challenged with ETEC K88 (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the piglets of the LP + ETEC K88 group had lower protein levels of IL-8, secretory immunoglobulin A, pBD-2, and MUC4 in the jejunal mucosa than those challenged with ETEC K88 (P < 0.05). Besides, LP supplementation reduced the percentage of gamma/delta T cells receptor (γδTCR) and CD172a+ (SWC3+) cells in MLN and the percentage of γδTCR cells in the spleen of young piglets after the ETEC K88 challenge. Supplementation with LP in liquid diets prevented the upregulated protein abundance of toll-like receptor (TLR) 4, phosphorylation-p38, and phosphorylation-extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases in the jejunal mucosa induced by ETEC K88 (P < 0.05). In conclusion, LP supplementation in liquid diet possesses anti-inflammatory activity and modulates the intestinal innate immunity during the early life of young piglets challenged with ETEC K88, which might be attributed to the suppression of TLR4-mediated mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways. Early supplementation with LP in liquid diets regulates the innate immune response, representing a promising immunoregulation strategy for maintaining intestinal health in weaned piglets.

Keywords: Lactobacillus plantarum; enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli K88; intestinal innate immunity; mitogen-activated protein kinase; piglets; toll-like receptor 4.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Lactobacillus plantarum LP-01Reduced Inflammatory Cytokines mRNA ExpressionBeneficial
Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115Reduced Inflammatory Cytokine LevelsBeneficial
Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115Reduced Inflammatory Marker Protein LevelsBeneficial
Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115Reduced Intestinal Immune Cell CountBeneficial
Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115Reduced Mucin ExpressionBeneficial
Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115Suppressed TLR4-Mediated MAPK Signaling PathwaysBeneficial

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