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Whey protein concentrate enhances intestinal integrity and influences transforming growth factor-β1 and mitogen-activated protein kinase signalling pathways in piglets after lipopolysaccharide challenge

Kan Xiao, Lefei Jiao, Shuting Cao, Zehe Song, Caihong Hu, Xinyan Han
British Journal of Nutrition 2016 March 28, 115 (6): 984-93
Whey protein concentrate (WPC) has been reported to have protective effects on the intestinal barrier. However, the molecular mechanisms involved are not fully elucidated. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is an important component in the WPC, but whether TGF-β1 plays a role in these processes is not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate the protective effects of WPC on the intestinal epithelial barrier as well as whether TGF-β1 is involved in these protection processes in a piglet model after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. In total, eighteen weanling pigs were randomly allocated to one of the following three treatment groups: (1) non-challenged control and control diet; (2) LPS-challenged control and control diet; (3) LPS+5 %WPC diet. After 19 d of feeding with control or 5 %WPC diets, pigs were injected with LPS or saline. At 4 h after injection, pigs were killed to harvest jejunal samples. The results showed that WPC improved (P<0·05) intestinal morphology, as indicated by greater villus height and villus height:crypt depth ratio, and intestinal barrier function, which was reflected by increased transepithelial electrical resistance and decreased mucosal-to-serosal paracellular flux of dextran (4 kDa), compared with the LPS group. Moreover, WPC prevented the LPS-induced decrease (P<0·05) in claudin-1, occludin and zonula occludens-1 expressions in the jejunal mucosae. WPC also attenuated intestinal inflammation, indicated by decreased (P<0·05) mRNA expressions of TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-1β. Supplementation with WPC also increased (P<0·05) TGF-β1 protein, phosphorylated-Smad2 expression and Smad4 and Smad7 mRNA expressions and decreased (P<0·05) the ratios of the phosphorylated to total c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 (phospho-JNK:JNK and p-p38:p38), whereas it increased (P<0·05) the ratio of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) (phospho-ERK:ERK). Collectively, these results suggest that dietary inclusion of WPC attenuates the LPS-induced intestinal injury by improving mucosal barrier function, alleviating intestinal inflammation and influencing TGF-β1 canonical Smad and mitogen-activated protein kinase signalling pathways.


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