Journal of animal science

Effects of maternal protein or energy restriction during late gestation on immune status and responses to lipopolysaccharide challenge in postnatal young goats.

PMID 25253814


Knowledge of maternal malnutrition of ruminants and effects on development of the immune system of their offspring is lacking. A study was conducted to investigate the effects of maternal protein or energy restriction during late gestation on immune status of their offspring at different ages. Sixty-three pregnant goats (local breed, Liuyang black goat, 22.2 ± 1.5 kg at d 90 of gestation) were fed control (CON, ME = 9.34 MJ/kg and CP = 12.5%, DM basis), 40% protein restricted (PR), or 40% energy restricted (ER) diets from d 91 of gestation to parturition, after which all animals received an adequate diet for nutritional recovery. Plasma concentrations of complement components (C3, C4), C-reactive protein (CRP) and immunoglobulins (IgG and IgM), jejunum cytokines (IL-2, IL-6, and IL-10) expression levels and morphology in the offspring were measured. Additionally, plasma concentration of complement and IL-6, and cytokines expression levels in gastrointestinal tract obtained at 6 wk from young goats were assessed under saline or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenging conditions. Maternal PR or ER decreased (P < 0.05) plasma C3, C4, IgG, and IgM concentrations, and IL-2 and IL-6 mRNA expression in the jejunum from neonatal kids, but did not alter (P > 0.05) plasma CRP concentration. The IL-10 mRNA expression of jejunum from PR kids was also less (P < 0.01) than that from CON kids. Moreover, jejunum villous height (P < 0.10 in PR, P < 0.05 in ER) and crypt depth (P < 0.05 both in PR and ER) were reduced in neonatal kids from malnourished mothers. At 6 wk of age, there were no differences (P > 0.05) in any plasma or tissue immune parameters among the 3 treatments. However, when given a LPS challenge, ER and PR kids had greater (P = 0.02) IL-6 concentration compared with CON kids. Our results suggest that both PR and ER during late gestation induced short-term as well as long-lasting alterations on immune responses in their offspring, which may make the animals more susceptible to a bacterial pathogen challenge. The present findings expand the existing knowledge in immunological mechanisms responsible for the development of disease in later life.