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Weaning and Feed Intake Alter Pancreatic Enzyme Activities and Corresponding mRNA Levels in 7-d-Old Piglets

Marion, Julia, Romé, Véronique, Savary, Gérard, Thomas, Françoise, Le Dividich, Jean, Le Huërou-Luron, Isabelle
Journal of nutrition 2003 v.133 no.2 pp. 362-368
cholecystokinin, dried foods, enzyme activity, feed intake, food intake, gastrins, gene expression, genes, messenger RNA, pancreas, piglets, trypsin, weaning
We investigated the changes in the capacity for synthesis of the exocrine pancreas of piglets during the 2 wk after weaning at 7 d of age (trial 1) by measuring the expression of digestive enzymes at mRNA and activity levels in pancreas homogenates, and the effects of high and low feed intakes during the 1st wk postweaning (trial 2) on these measures. The trypsin mRNA level was transiently decreased 43% 3 d postweaning (P < 0.05). Thereafter, trypsin and lipase mRNAs linearly increased (P < 0.05). During the 1st wk postweaning, trypsin- and lipase-specific activities were reduced 44 and 79% (P < 0.05), respectively, whereas 14 d after weaning, trypsin was at the preweaning value and lipase was at a low level. Amylase-specific activity did not change with weaning. Plasma cholecystokinin (CCK) and gastrin concentrations decreased 1 d postweaning and increased afterward up to 3 and 5 d postweaning, respectively. By 3 d after weaning, the mRNA level of trypsin was twofold higher (P < 0.05) in piglets that consumed more feed than in those that consumed less, whereas 7 d after weaning, the groups did not differ. By 7 d after weaning, the specific activity of amylase was higher, and lipase-specific activity was lower, in piglets that consumed more feed than in those that consumed less. Plasma CCK and gastrin concentrations measured 7 d after weaning were correlated with feed intake (r = +0.56 and r = +0.68, P < 0.05, respectively). In conclusion, by 3 d postweaning, pancreatic exocrine function was adapting to the new diet. Afterward, the expression of specific genes coding digestive enzymes and the levels of pancreatic enzyme activities were restored or stimulated, except for lipase-specific activity. Therefore, the pancreas can adjust to weaning and dry food intake as early as wk 2 of life.