Mucosal Environment of Older Pigs Helps Newborn Piglets with Intestinal Injury Recover
Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) have found that the intestinal mucosal environment of juvenile pigs can stimulate repair of intestinal injuries in newborn piglets. The findings have implications both for understanding why newborns of many species – including humans – are unable to repair these injuries on their own, as well as for potential future treatments.
Intestinal ischemic is a painful condition that makes it difficult for the intestines to work properly. This injury occurs when blood flow to a portion of the intestine is cut off, resulting in the loss of epithelial cells that line intestinal walls. Once this barrier is damaged, intestinal contents can leak into the bloodstream, causing sepsis and often fatal infections. Infants are particularly vulnerable to these injuries; this research shows it may be because they lack the ability to quickly repair the damaged areas.
“In these intestinal injuries, the epithelium sloughs off and creates small holes through which bacteria enter the bloodstream,” says Amanda Ziegler, NC State postdoctoral researcher and lead author of a paper describing the research. “Older animals and human adults can repair these holes within minutes to hours, but newborn pigs cannot. We want to understand the repair mechanism – or lack of it – in newborns.”
Future studies to identify and rescue specific defects in neonatal intestinal repair mechanisms will drive development of novel clinical interventions to reduce mortality in infants affected by intestinal ischemic injury.
Read the full story at NC State News.
Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.