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1.  Penile Injuries in Wild and Domestic Pigs 
Simple Summary
Male pigs raised for pork production on experimental and commercial farms were evaluated for scars, fresh wounds and severe injuries of the penis. A high incidence of penile injuries (64.0%–94.9% of the animals/farm) was found in boars but not in barrows (castrated males) with even severe wounds in 5.2% to 9.3% of the boars. A similar evaluation of 15 free-ranging wild boars also revealed a considerable proportion of animals with penile injuries. Thus, penis biting is a highly relevant and severe welfare problem in boars which is not limited to intensive production systems.
In boars, sexually motivated mounting can not only cause problems such as lameness, but penile injuries are also reported. The relevance of penis biting in boars is discussed controversially, but reliable data is missing. In the present study, boars (n = 385) and barrows (n = 85) from experimental farms were therefore evaluated for scars, fresh wounds and severe injuries of the penis. Similarly, 321 boars from 11 farms specializing in pork production with boars, and 15 sexually mature wild boars from the hunting season of 2015/16 were included in the study. In domestic boars, a high incidence of penile injuries was obvious (76.6%–91.3% of animals with scars and/or wounds at experimental farms, 64.0%–94.9% at commercial farms). The number of boars with severe injuries was in a similar range in both groups (5.2% vs. 9.3%). At commercial farms, the number of scars but not that of fresh wounds increased per animal with age by 0.3 per week. Moreover, raising boars in mixed groups led to about a 1.5 times higher number of scars than in single-sex groups. In wild boars, a considerable proportion of animals (40%) revealed penile injuries, which were even severe in three animals. We therefore conclude that penis biting is a highly relevant and severe welfare problem in the male pig population, but this phenomenon is not limited to intensive production systems.
PMCID: PMC4846825  PMID: 27023619
pork production; penile injuries; wild boar (WB); domestic boar (DB)
2.  Associations among Haemophilus parasuis, Mycoplasma hyorhinis, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus infections in pigs with polyserositis 
The Canadian Veterinary Journal  2015;56(3):285-287.
The objective of this study was to determine the associations among Haemophilus parasuis, Mycoplasma hyorhinis, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus (EU-field strain) infections in 95 pigs with polyserositis. A significant association between H. parasuis and M. hyorhinis was identified. H. parasuis and M. hyorhinis were significantly more often detected in PRRS virus positive pigs.
PMCID: PMC4327143  PMID: 25750450
3.  Emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in southern Germany 
BMC Veterinary Research  2015;11:142.
Over the last years, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has caused devastating enteric diseases in the US and several countries in Asia, while outbreaks in Europe have only been reported sporadically since the 1980s. At present, only insufficient information is available on currently circulating PEDV strains in Europe and their impact on the European swine industry. In this case report, we present epidemic outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea in three farms in South-Western Germany.
Case presentation
Epidemic outbreaks of diarrhea affecting pigs of all age groups were reported in three farms, one fattening farm and two piglet producing farms, in South-Western Germany between May and November 2014. In the fattening farm yellowish, watery diarrhea without evidence of mucus or blood was associated with a massive reduction of feed consumption. Severity of clinical signs and mortality in young suckling pigs varied significantly between the two affected sow farms. While mortality in suckling piglets reached almost 70 % in one sow herd, no increase in suckling piglet mortality was observed in the second sow farm. In all three cases, PEDV was confirmed in feces and small intestines by RT-qPCR. Phylogenetic analyses based on full-length PEDV genomes revealed high identity among strains from all three herds. Moreover, the German strains showed very high nucleotide identity (99.4 %) with a variant of PEDV (OH851) that was isolated in the United States in January 2014. This strain with insertions and deletions in the S-gene (so called INDEL strains) was reported to show lower virulence. Slightly lower identities were found with other strains from the US and Asia.
Phylogenetic information on the distribution of PEDV strains in Europe is severely lacking. In this case report we demonstrate that acute outbreaks of PEDV occurred in southern Germany in 2014. Current strains were clearly different from isolates found in the 1980s and were closely related to a PEDV variant found in the US in 2014. Moreover, the present case report indicates that variant strains of PEDV, containing insertions and deletions in the S gene, which were reported to be of lower virulence, might be able to cause high mortality in suckling piglets.
PMCID: PMC4487554  PMID: 26135732
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus; Southern Germany; Phylogenetic analysis; S INDEL PEDV
4.  Magnitude and kinetics of multifunctional CD4+ and CD8β+ T cells in pigs infected with swine influenza A virus 
Veterinary Research  2015;46(1):52.
Although swine are natural hosts for influenza A viruses, the porcine T-cell response to swine influenza A virus (FLUAVsw) infection has been poorly characterized so far. We have studied Ki-67 expression and FLUAVsw-specific production of IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-2 in CD4+ and CD8β+ T cells isolated from piglets that had been intratracheally infected with a H1N2 FLUAVsw isolate. IFN-γ+TNF-α+IL-2+ multifunctional CD4+ T cells were present in the blood of all infected animals at one or two weeks after primary infection and their frequency increased in four out of six animals after homologous secondary infection. These cells produced higher amounts of IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-2 than did CD4+ T cells that only produced a single cytokine. The vast majority of cytokine-producing CD4+ T cells expressed CD8α, a marker associated with activation and memory formation in porcine CD4+ T cells. Analysis of CD27 expression suggested that FLUAVsw-specific CD4+ T cells included both central memory and effector memory populations. Three out of six animals showed a strong increase of Ki-67+perforin+ CD8β+ T cells in blood one week post infection. Blood-derived FLUAVsw-specific CD8β+ T cells could be identified after an in vitro expansion phase and were multifunctional in terms of CD107a expression and co-production of IFN-γ and TNF-α. These data show that multifunctional T cells are generated in response to FLUAVsw infection of pigs, supporting the idea that T cells contribute to the efficient control of infection.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13567-015-0182-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4429459  PMID: 25971313
5.  PCV2 vaccination induces IFN-γ/TNF-α co-producing T cells with a potential role in protection 
Veterinary Research  2015;46:20.
Porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) is one of the economically most important pathogens for swine production worldwide. Vaccination is a powerful tool to control porcine circovirus diseases (PCVD). However, it is not fully understood how PCV2 vaccination interacts with the porcine immune system. Especially knowledge on the cellular immune response against PCV2 is sparse. In this study we analysed antigen-specific T cell responses against PCV2 in a controlled vaccination and infection experiment. We focused on the ability of CD4+ T cells to produce cytokines using multicolour flow cytometry (FCM). Vaccination with a PCV2 subunit vaccine (Ingelvac CircoFLEX®) induced PCV2-specific antibodies only in five out of 12 animals. Conversely, vaccine-antigen specific CD4+ T cells which simultaneously produced IFN-γ and TNF-α and had a phenotype of central and effector memory T cells were detected in all vaccinated piglets. After challenge, seroconversion occurred earlier in vaccinated and infected pigs compared to the non-vaccinated, infected group. Vaccinated pigs were fully protected against viremia after subsequent challenge. Therefore, our data suggests that the induction of IFN-γ/TNF-α co-producing T cells by PCV2 vaccination may serve as a potential correlate of protection for this type of vaccine.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13567-015-0157-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4348102  PMID: 25888899
6.  Comparison of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Viruses from Germany and the United States, 2014 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2015;21(3):493-496.
Since 2013, highly virulent porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has caused considerable economic losses in the United States. To determine the relation of US strains to those recently causing disease in Germany, we compared genomes and found that the strain from Germany is closely related to variants in the United States.
PMCID: PMC4344272  PMID: 25695311
porcine epidemic diarrhea virus; German case report; new variant; European isolates; next-generation sequencing; viruses; Germany; Europe
7.  Effects of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist liraglutide in juvenile transgenic pigs modeling a pre-diabetic condition 
The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP1R) agonist liraglutide improves glycemic control and reduces body weight of adult type 2 diabetic patients. However, efficacy and safety of liraglutide in adolescents has not been systematically investigated. Furthermore, possible pro-proliferative effects of GLP1R agonists on the endocrine and exocrine pancreas need to be further evaluated. We studied effects of liraglutide in adolescent pigs expressing a dominant-negative glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide receptor (GIPRdn) in the beta-cells, leading to a pre-diabetic condition including disturbed glucose tolerance, reduced insulin secretion and progressive reduction of functional beta-cell mass.
Two-month-old GIPRdn transgenic pigs were treated daily with liraglutide (0.6-1.2 mg per day) or placebo for 90 days. Glucose homeostasis was evaluated prior to and at the end of the treatment period by performing mixed meal and intravenous glucose tolerance tests (MMGTT and IVGTT). Finally animals were subjected to necropsy and quantitative-stereological analyses were performed for evaluation of alpha- and beta-cell mass, beta-cell proliferation as well as acinus-cell proliferation.
MMGTT at the end of the study revealed 23% smaller area under the curve (AUC) for glucose, a 36% smaller AUC insulin, and improved insulin sensitivity, while IVGTT showed a 15% smaller AUC glucose but unchanged AUC insulin in liraglutide- vs. placebo-treated animals. Liraglutide led to marked reductions in body weight gain (-31%) and food intake (-30%) compared to placebo treatment, associated with reduced phosphorylation of insulin receptor beta (INSRB)/insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor beta (IGF1RB) and protein kinase B (AKT) in skeletal muscle. Absolute alpha- and beta-cell mass was reduced in liraglutide-treated animals, but alpha- and beta-cell mass-to-body weight ratios were unchanged. Liraglutide neither stimulated beta-cell proliferation in the endocrine pancreas nor acinus-cell proliferation in the exocrine pancreas, excluding both beneficial and detrimental effects on the pig pancreas.
Although plasma liraglutide levels of adolescent transgenic pigs treated in our study were higher compared to human trials, pro-proliferative effects on the endocrine or exocrine pancreas or other liraglutide-related side-effects were not observed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0431-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4362632  PMID: 25890210
Transgenic pig model; Type 2 diabetes; GIP receptor; GLP1 receptor agonist; Incretin-based therapeutics; Liraglutide; Adolescents; Beta-cell mass
8.  Changing Dietary Calcium-Phosphorus Level and Cereal Source Selectively Alters Abundance of Bacteria and Metabolites in the Upper Gastrointestinal Tracts of Weaned Pigs 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(23):7264-7272.
Several dietary ingredients may affect the bacterial community structure and metabolism in the porcine gut and may therefore influence animals' health and performance. This study investigated the effects of cereal source and calcium-phosphorus (CaP) level in the diet on bacterial microbiota and metabolites, nutrient intake, and gut environment in weaned pigs. Pigs (n = 8/treatment) were fed wheat-barley- or corn-based diets with an adequate or high CaP level for 14 days. Effects on microbiota in the stomach, ileum, and midcolon were assessed using quantitative PCR. Data showed that Enterobacteriaceae, Campylobacter spp., and Helicobacter spp., which all contain highly immune reactive lipopolysaccharide (LPS), were abundant at all gut sites. Diet effects on bacteria and metabolites were moderate and occurred mainly in the upper gut, whereas no effects on bacteria, fermentation products, and LPS could be observed in the colon. Differences in carbohydrate intake with corn versus wheat-barley diets selectively stimulated Bifidobacterium in the stomach and ileum. There was a growth advantage for a few bacterial groups in the stomach and ileum of pigs fed the high versus adequate CaP level (i.e., gastric Enterobacteriaceae and ileal Enterococcus, Bacteroides-Prevotella-Porphyromonas, and Campylobacter). Interestingly, gastrointestinal pH was not affected by dietary CaP level. The present findings demonstrate the stability of the bacterial community and gut environment toward dietary changes even in young pigs. The results on stimulation of gastric and ileal Bifidobacterium by corn diets may be employed in nutritional strategies to support gut health after weaning.
PMCID: PMC3837733  PMID: 24038702
9.  Mucosa-Associated Bacterial Microbiome of the Gastrointestinal Tract of Weaned Pigs and Dynamics Linked to Dietary Calcium-Phosphorus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86950.
Dietary composition largely influences pig’s gastrointestinal microbiota and represents a useful prophylactic tool against enteric disturbances in young pigs. Despite the importance for host-microbe interactions and bacterial colonization, dietary responses of the mucosa-associated bacterial communities are less well investigated. In the present study, we characterized the mucosa-associated bacterial communities at the Pars non-glandularis of the stomach, ileum and colon, and identified shifts in these communities in response to different dietary calcium-phosphorus (Ca-P) contents (100% versus 190% of the Ca and P requirements) in combination with two basal diets (wheat-barley- or corn-based) in weaned pigs. Pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes from 93 mucosal samples yielded 447,849 sequences, clustering into 997 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at 97% similarity level. OTUs were assigned to 198 genera belonging to 14 different phyla. Correlation-based networks revealed strong interactions among OTUs at the various gastrointestinal sites. Our data describe a previously not reported high diversity and species richness at the Pars non-glandularis of the stomach in weaned pigs. Moreover, high versus adequate Ca-P content significantly promoted Lactobacillus by 14.9% units (1.4 fold change) at the gastric Pars non-glandularis (P = 0.035). Discriminant analysis revealed dynamic changes in OTU composition in response to dietary cereals and Ca-P contents at all gastrointestinal sites which were less distinguishable at higher taxonomic levels. Overall, this study revealed a distinct mucosa-associated bacterial community at the different gut sites, and a strong effect of high Ca-P diets on the gastric community, thereby markedly expanding our comprehension on mucosa-associated microbiota and their diet-related dynamics in weaned pigs.
PMCID: PMC3900689  PMID: 24466298
10.  Evaluation of the endotoxin binding efficiency of clay minerals using the Limulus Amebocyte lysate test: an in vitro study 
AMB Express  2014;4:1.
Endotoxins are part of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria. They are potent immune stimulators and can lead to death if present in high concentrations. Feed additives, which bind endotoxins in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, could help to prevent their negative impact. The objective of our study was to determine the potential of a bentonite (Bentonite 1), a sodium bentonite (Bentonite 2), a chemically treated smectite (Organoclay 1) and a modified attapulgite (Organoclay 2) to bind endotoxins in vitro. Polymyxin B served as positive control. The kinetic chromogenic Limulus Amebocyte lysate test was adapted to measure endotoxin activity. Firstly, a single sorption experiment (10 endotoxin units/mL (EU/mL)) was performed. Polymyxin B and organoclays showed 100% binding efficiency. Secondly, the adsorption efficiency of sorbents in aqueous solution with increasing endotoxin concentrations (2,450 – 51,700 EU/mL) was investigated. Organoclay 1 (0.1%) showed a good binding efficiency in aqueous solution (average 81%), whereas Bentonite 1 (0.1%) obtained a lower binding efficiency (21-54%). The following absorbent capacities were calculated in highest endotoxin concentration: 5.59 mg/g (Organoclay 1) > 3.97 mg/g (Polymyxin B) > 2.58mg/g (Organoclay 2) > 1.55 mg/g (Bentonite 1) > 1.23 mg/g (Bentonite 2). Thirdly, a sorption experiment in artificial intestinal fluid was conducted. Especially for organoclays, which are known to be unspecific adsorbents, the endotoxin binding capacity was significantly reduced. In contrast, Bentonite 1 showed comparable results in artificial intestinal fluid and aqueous solution. Based on the results of this in vitro study, the effect of promising clay minerals will be investigated in in vivo trials.
PMCID: PMC3901786  PMID: 24383578
Endotoxin; Lipopolysaccharide; Bentonite; Organoclay; Binding; Isotherm; LAL test; Feed additive
11.  CD27 expression discriminates porcine T helper cells with functionally distinct properties 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):18.
Differentiation of porcine T helper cells is still poorly investigated, partly due to a lack of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for molecules involved in this process. Recently, we identified a mAb specific for porcine CD27 and showed that CD27 is expressed by all naïve CD8α- T helper cells but divides CD8α+ T helper cells into a CD27+ and a CD27- subset. In the present study, detailed phenotypical and functional analyses of these T-helper cell subpopulations were performed. Naïve CD8α-CD27+ T helper cells predominantly resided in various lymph nodes, whereas higher proportions of CD8α+CD27+ and CD8α+CD27- T helper cells were found in blood, spleen and liver. Both CD8α+CD27+ and CD8α+CD27- T helper cells were capable of producing IFN-γ upon in vitro polyclonal stimulation and antigen-specific restimulation. Experiments with sorted CD8α-CD27+, CD8α+CD27+ and CD8α+CD27- T-helper cell subsets following polyclonal stimulation revealed the lowest proliferative response but the highest ability for IFN-γ and TNF-α production in the CD8α+CD27- subset. Therefore, these cells resembled terminally differentiated effector memory cells as described in human. This was supported by analyses of CCR7 and CD62L expression. CD8α+CD27- T helper cells were mostly CCR7- and had considerably reduced CD62L mRNA levels. In contrast, expression of both homing-receptors was increased on CD8α+CD27+ T helper cells, which also had a proliferation rate similar to naïve CD8α-CD27+ T helper cells and showed intermediate levels of cytokine production. Therefore, similar to human, CD8α+CD27+ T helper cells displayed a phenotype and functional properties of central memory cells.
PMCID: PMC3610194  PMID: 23497134
12.  Metabolism of the masked mycotoxin deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside in rats 
Toxicology Letters  2012;213(3):367-373.
► The metabolism of deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside (D3G) in rats was studied. ► Urine and feces were analyzed by a validated LC–MS/MS biomarker method. ► D3G was readily hydrolyzed to deoxynivalenol (DON) during digestion. ► Most D3G was metabolized by the gut microbiota and recovered in feces. ► D3G is of considerably lower toxicological relevance than DON, at least in rats.
Deoxynivalenol-3-β-d-glucoside (D3G), a plant metabolite of the Fusarium mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), might be hydrolyzed in the digestive tract of mammals, thus contributing to the total dietary DON exposure of individuals. Yet, D3G has not been considered in regulatory limits set for DON for foodstuffs due to the lack of in vivo data. The aim of our study was to evaluate whether D3G is reactivated in vivo by investigation of its metabolism in rats. Six Sprague-Dawley rats received water, DON (2.0 mg/kg body weight (b.w.)) and the equimolar amount of D3G (3.1 mg/kg b.w.) by gavage on day 1, 8 and 15, respectively. Urine and feces were collected for 48 h and analyzed for D3G, DON, deoxynivalenol-glucuronide (DON-GlcA) and de-epoxy deoxynivalenol (DOM-1) by a validated LC–tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) based biomarker method. After administration of D3G, only 3.7 ± 0.7% of the given dose were found in urine in the form of analyzed analytes, compared to 14.9 ± 5.0% after administration of DON, and only 0.3 ± 0.1% were detected in the form of urinary D3G. The majority of administered D3G was recovered as DON and DOM-1 in feces. These results suggest that D3G is little bioavailable, hydrolyzed to DON during digestion, and partially converted to DOM-1 and DON-GlcA prior to excretion. Our data indicate that D3G is of considerably lower toxicological relevance than DON, at least in rats.
PMCID: PMC3448059  PMID: 22884771
D3G, deoxynivalenol-3-β-d-glucoside; DON, deoxynivalenol; JECFA, Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives; DOM-1, de-epoxy deoxynivalenol; DON-GlcA, deoxynivalenol-glucuronide; DOM-1-GlcA, DOM-1-glucuronide; b.w., body weight; SPE, solid phase extraction; MeOH, methanol; ACN, acetonitrile; HPLC, high performance liquid chromatography; MS, mass spectrometry; MS/MS, tandem mass spectrometry; SRM, selected reaction monitoring; DP, declustering potential; CE, collision energy; RA, apparent recovery; SSE, signal suppression/enhancement; RE, recovery of the extraction step; LOD, limit of detection; LOQ, limit of quantification; Z14G, zearalenone-14-β-d-glucoside; Deoxynivalenol; Conjugated mycotoxins; ADME; Urine; Feces; Rodent
13.  Antibodies to actin in autoimmune haemolytic anaemia 
In autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA), autoreactive antibodies directed against red blood cells are up-regulated, leading to erythrocyte death. Mycoplasma suis infections in pigs induce AIHA of both the warm and cold types. The aim of this study was to identify the target autoantigens of warm autoreactive IgG antibodies. Sera from experimentally M. suis-infected pigs were screened for autoreactivity.
Actin-reactive antibodies were found in the sera of 95% of all animals tested. The reactivity was species-specific, i.e. reactivity with porcine actin was significantly higher than with rabbit actin. Sera of animals previously immunised with the M. suis adhesion protein MSG1 showed reactivity with actin prior to infection with M. suis indicating that molecular mimicry is involved in the specific autoreactive mechanism. A potentially cross-reactive epitope was detected.
This is the first report of autoreactive anti-actin antibodies involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia.
PMCID: PMC3003239  PMID: 20353574
14.  Use of Recombinant Antigens To Detect Antibodies against Mycoplasma suis, with Correlation of Serological Results to Hematological Findings▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2007;14(12):1616-1622.
Porcine eperythrozoonosis is a disease with worldwide distribution caused by the unculturable hemotrophic bacterium Mycoplasma suis. Current serological testing utilizes crude M. suis antigens purified from the blood of experimentally infected pigs. These antigens show high variability and are restricted to specialized laboratories. We evaluated a novel serological assay based on two recombinant M. suis antigens (rMSG1 and rHspA1). Antigen specificity was proven by means of sera raised against nonhemotrophic mycoplasma and other relevant bacteria. Using experimental and convalescent-phase sera, rMSG1 and rHspA1 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) demonstrated sensitivities, specificities, and predictive values (94.0 to 100.0%) equal to or higher than those of the M. suis whole-cell ELISA. Field samples from 120 weaning piglets grouped by quantitative PCR results were used to evaluate the diagnostic capability of the new ELISA systems in comparison to that of the whole-cell ELISA. Assuming a 100.0% specificity of the PCR, the whole-cell ELISA, rHspA1 ELISA, and rMSG1 ELISA showed specificities of 84.8%, 83.8%, and 90.6% and sensitivities of 61.5%, 74.0% and 58.1%, respectively. Cohen's kappa coefficients comparing the recombinant ELISAs to the whole-cell ELISA indicate moderate to substantial agreement. The detection of anti-MSG1 and/or anti-HspA1 antibodies in pigs was significantly correlated with decreased hematocrit, erythrocyte numbers, and hemoglobin concentrations, indicating that a single seropositive result is connected with clinical and etiological significance. In conclusion, rMSG1 and rHspA1 are sensitive and specific serological and infection markers which are for the first time used independently of animal experiments. They are especially fit to be used in routine diagnosis, pathogenesis studies, and large-scale epidemiological investigations.
PMCID: PMC2168379  PMID: 17942612

Results 1-14 (14)