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Serotonin's role in piglet mortality and thriftiness

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Improving piglet survivability rates is of high priority for swine production as well as for piglet well-being. Dysfunction in the serotonin (5-HT) system has been associated with growth deficiencies, infant mortalities, or failure to thrive in human infants. The aim of this research was to determine if a relationship exists between infant mortality and failure to thrive (or unthriftiness), and umbilical 5-HT concentration in piglets. Umbilical blood was collected from a total of 60 piglets from 15 litters for analysis of 5-HT and tryptophan (Trp; the AA precursor to 5-HT) concentrations. Behavior was scan sampled for the first 2 days after birth. Brain samples were also taken at 8 h after birth from healthy and unthrifty piglets (n = 41 group). The raphe nucleus was dissected out and analyzed for 5-HT and dopamine concentrations as well as their major metabolites 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HlAA) and homovanillic acid (HVA), respectively. Data were analyzed by ANOVA. Piglets that died with- in 48 h of birth (n = 14) had significantly lower umbilical blood 5-HT concentrations at the time of their birth compared to their healthy counterparts (n = 46, P = 0.003). However, no difference in Trp was detected (P 0.38). Time spent under the heat lamp and sleeping were positively correlated with umbilical 5-HT levels (P = 0.004 and P = 0.02, respectively), while inactiv- ity had a negative correlation with 5-HT levels (P = 0.04). In the raphe nucleus, the center for brain 5-HT biosynthesis, unthrifty piglets had a greater concentration of 5-HIAA (P = 0.02) and a trend for higher con- centrations of 5-HT (P = 0.07) compared with healthy piglets. Dopamine levels did not differ between thrifty and unthrifty piglets (P = 0.45); however, its metabolite HVA tended to be greater in unthrifty piglets (P = 0.05). Our results show evidence of serotonergic dys- function, at both the central and peripheral levels, accompanying early piglet mortalities. These data sug- gest a possible route for intervention, via the 5-HT sys- tem, to improve piglet survivability. However, further research is required to validate this hypothesis.
R. L. Dennis , K. A. McMunn , H. W. Cheng , J. N. Marchant-Forde , D. C. Lay Jr.
USDA Scientist Submission
Journal of animal science 2014 10 1 v.92 no.10
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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