Use of the piglet to study the role of growth factors in neonatal intestinal development

S. M. Donovan, R. T. Zijlstra, J. Odle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Milk growth factors are thought to contribute to postnatal gastrointestinal growth. The roles of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) in the neonatal piglet intestine were investigated. In the first study, piglets were infected with rotavirus on d 4 postpartum and received formula containing 0, 500 or 1000 μg/l of EGF for 8 days. A non-infected control group received no EGF. Infected piglets developed severe diarrhea and gained 60% less weight than controls. Rotaviral infection caused a 37% decrease in villus height and 40% decreases in intestinal enzyme activities compared to control. Oral EGF increased villus height and lactase activity in a linear dose-response fashion. Our results suggest that supplementation of formulas with high physiological levels of EGF may aid in small intestinal recovery. A second study investigated absorption of orally administered IGF-I. Newborn piglets were fitted with catheters via the umbilical artery and vein. Piglets were given formula containing 25 μCi of [125I]-IGF-I and blood samples were drawn for 240 min. Total radioactivity, protein bound counts, and counts immunoprecipitable with an antibody to IGF-I were determined in plasma. Radioactivity was detected in portal and arterial plasma within 15 min and rose throughout the study, however, protein bound counts were stable at 20-30% of total counts between 30 and 180 min post-gavage. Approximately 10% of the counts were immunoprecipitable by a polyclonal antibody to IGF-I, suggesting that up to 10% of orally administered IGF-I may be absorbed intact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalEndocrine Regulations
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994


  • IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs)
  • epidermal growth factor (EGF)
  • insulin-like growth factor (IGF)
  • intestine
  • milk
  • piglet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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