Consuming Transgenic Goats' Milk Containing the Antimicrobial Protein Lysozyme Helps Resolve Diarrhea in Young Pigs

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Childhood diarrhea is a significant problem in many developing countries and E. coli is a main causative agent of diarrhea in young children. Lysozyme is an antimicrobial protein highly expressed in human milk, but not ruminant milk, and is thought to help protect breastfeeding children against diarrheal diseases. We hypothesized that consumption of milk from transgenic goats which produce human lysozyme (hLZ-milk) in their milk would accelerate recovery from bacterial-induced diarrhea. Young pigs were used as a model for children and infected with enterotoxigenic E. coli. Once clinical signs of diarrhea developed, pigs were fed hLZ-milk or non-transgenic control goat milk three times a day for two days. Clinical observations and complete blood counts (CBC) were performed. Animals were euthanized and samples collected to assess differences in histology, cytokine expression and bacterial translocation into the mesenteric lymph node. Pigs consuming hLZ-milk recovered from clinical signs of infection faster than pigs consuming control milk, with significantly improved fecal consistency (p = 0.0190) and activity level (p = 0.0350). The CBC analysis showed circulating monocytes (p = 0.0413), neutrophils (p = 0.0219), and lymphocytes (p = 0.0222) returned faster to pre-infection proportions in hLZ-milk fed pigs, while control-fed pigs had significantly higher hematocrit (p = 0.027), indicating continuing dehydration. In the ileum, pigs fed hLZ-milk had significantly lower expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 (p = 0.0271), longer intestinal villi (p<0.0001), deeper crypts (p = 0.0053), and a thinner lamina propria (p = 0.0004). These data demonstrate that consumption of hLZ-milk helped pigs recover from infection faster, making hLZ-milk an effective treatment of E. coli-induced diarrhea.




Cooper, C. A., Garas Klobas, L. C., Maga, E. A., & Murray, J. D. (2013). Consuming Transgenic Goats’ Milk Containing the Antimicrobial Protein Lysozyme Helps Resolve Diarrhea in Young Pigs. PLoS ONE, 8(3).

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