College of Veterinary Medicine Researchers Examine Microbiome Associations Related to Disease Expression in Swine

Jul 01, 2016

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Researchers in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University have teamed up with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to evaluate the impact and association of microbiomes connected with two of the most devastating viral diseases in swine. [Source: KSU, June 24, 2016]

The work has produced the study "Microbiome associations in pigs with the best and worst clinical outcomes following co-infection with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2)," which was published in the May 2016 issue of Veterinary Microbiology.

"Understanding how the microbiome impacts health and disease in swine is a relatively new field of study," said Megan Niederwerder, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the diagnostic medicine and pathobiology department and the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Niederwerder said the term microbiome refers to the community of microorganisms living in or on the surface of our bodies. The gastrointestinal tract houses the greatest proportion of these microorganisms.

"Previous microbiome associations have been linked in humans to obesity, autoimmune and infectious diseases, immune response and cancer," Niederwerder said. "Detailed investigations into understanding how the gastrointestinal microbiome impacts health and disease in animals are increasing. In our work, we have looked at microbiome diversity and composition in nursery pigs in association with clinical disease and growth performance after virus infection."

The viral infections Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus and porcine circovirus type 2 have caused billions of dollars in losses to swine producers over the last 25 years.

"We looked at nursery pigs with systemic viral infections and found that increased diversity of the microbiome and the presence of specific bacteria, such as nonpathogenic E. coli, were associated with improved outcome," Niederwerder said. "Greater diversity of the microbiome seems to lead to a better response to infection for swine. Our ultimate goal would be to develop ways in the future to modulate the microbiome and improve response to virus infection."

Co-authors on the study included Bob Rowland, virologist and professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, and Giselle Cino-Ozuna, clinical assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, from Kansas State University; and Crystal Jaing, Kevin McLoughlin and James Thissen from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Source: AASV