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Citrulline and intestinal fatty acid-binding protein: Longitudinal markers of postweaning small intestinal function in pigs?

Berkeveld, M., Langendijk, P., Verheijden, J.H.M., Taverne, M.A.M., Nes, A. van, Haard, P. van, Koets, A.P.
Journal of animal science 2008 v.86 no.12 pp. 3440-3449
swine, piglets, weaning, citrulline, fatty acid-binding proteins, biomarkers, small intestine, blood chemistry, digesta, intestinal absorption, uptake mechanisms, body weight
The objective of the current study was to investigate whether plasma citrulline or intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP) concentrations might be used as longitudinal markers for small intestinal function in piglets after weaning. Plasma citrulline and I-FABP concentrations were measured longitudinally in weaned and unweaned piglets, and related to intestinal absorption values (i.e., plasma mannitol and 3-xylose concentrations in a sugar absorption test). Within each litter (n = 10), 2 piglets with a close-to-litter-average BW were selected. At 20.8 ± 0.4 d of age, the selected piglets per litter were either weaned conventionally (CW) or remained with the sow (UNW). One day before, and 0.5, 2, 4, and 7 d after weaning of the CW piglets, the selected piglets of both groups were subjected to a sugar absorption test. After a 2-h fast, piglets were administered an oral dose of 2 mL/kg of sugar solution, containing 50 mg/kg of mannitol and 100 mg/kg of 3-xylose. One hour after administration, a blood sample was collected from a jugular vein for determination of plasma I-FABP, citrulline, mannitol, and 3-xylose concentrations. Plasma I-FABP concentration showed great variation within treatments, and no difference was observed in plasma I-FABP concentrations between the CW and UNW treatments (P = 0.63). The absorption of 3-xylose was not different between treatments (P = 0.83). Mannitol absorption, however, was less in the weaned CW piglets compared with the UNW piglets (P = 0.003), with the nadir on d 4 postweaning. Weaning also reduced plasma citrulline concentrations in the CW treatment compared with the UNW treatment (P < 0.001). On d 4 and 7 postweaning, plasma citrulline concentrations of CW piglets were less (P < 0.001 and P = 0.0013) than preweaning values. Furthermore, in the CW treatment, plasma citrulline concentrations correlated with plasma mannitol concentrations at d 4 postweaning (r = 0.89, P = 0.008) and overall (r = 0.76, P = 0.001). Based on these results, plasma citrulline concentration seems to be a possible marker for monitoring intestinal function in pigs after weaning.