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Dietary supplementation with ovine serum immunoglobulin is associated with an increased gut luminal mucin concentration in the growing rat

  • P. Balan (a1), K.-S. Han (a1), H. Singh (a1) and P. J. Moughan (a1)


The mucus layer covering the gut epithelium is pivotal to host defence and is affected by various dietary components. Part of the reported beneficial effect of dietary immunoglobulins (Igs) on gut health may be due to effects on the gut mucus layer. The aim was to determine whether orally administered ovine serum Ig influence goblet cell count, mucin gene expression and digesta mucin protein content in the gut of the growing rat. Fourteen Sprague–Dawley male growing rats were used in a 21-day study and were fed either a casein-based control diet (CON; no Ig) or a similar diet but containing freeze-dried ovine Ig (FDOI). Daily food intake and growth rate were not affected by the dietary treatments. When compared to the rats consuming CON diet, those consuming the FDOI diet had significantly (P < 0.05) more intact and cavitated goblet cells in the intestinal villi. A similar result was found for crypt goblet cells in the small intestine and colon. Ileal Muc2, Muc3, Muc4 and stomach Muc5Ac mRNA expressions for the FDOI animals were higher (P < 0.05) compared to the the CON animals. Mucin protein content was higher (P < 0.05) in the stomach, ileum and colonic digesta of rats fed the FDOI diet. In conclusion, orally administered FDOI influenced gut mucins in the growing rat as evidenced by increased mucin gene expression and digesta mucin protein concentrations as well as an increased goblet cell count.


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