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The association between faecal host DNA or faecal calprotectin and feed efficiency in pigs fed yeast-enriched protein concentrate


K. R. Slinger

A. H. Stewart

Z. C. T. R. Daniel

H. Hall

H. V.

M. R. Bedford

Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry

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Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry


Gut cell losses contribute to overall feed efficiency due to the energy requirement for cell replenishment. Intestinal epithelial cells are sloughed into the intestinal lumen as digesta passes through the gastrointestinal tract, where cells are degraded by endonucleases. This leads to fragmented DNA being present in faeces, which may be an indicator of gut cell loss. Therefore, measuring host faecal DNA content could have potential as a non-invasive marker of gut cell loss and result in a novel technique for the assessment of how different feed ingredients impact upon gut health. Faecal calprotectin (CALP) is a marker of intestinal inflammation. This was a pilot study designed to test a methodology for extracting and quantifying DNA from pig faeces, and to assess whether any differences in host faecal DNA and CALP could be detected. An additional aim was to determine whether any differences in the above measures were related to the pig performance response to dietary yeast-enriched protein concentrate (YPC). Newly weaned (∼26.5 days of age) Large White × Landrace × Pietrain piglets (8.37 kg ±1.10, n = 180) were assigned to one of four treatment groups (nine replicates of five pigs), differing in dietary YPC content: 0% (control), 2.5%, 5% and 7.5% (w/w). Pooled faecal samples were collected on days 14 and 28 of the 36-day trial. Deoxyribonucleic acid was extracted and quantitative PCR was used to assess DNA composition. Pig genomic DNA was detected using primers specific for the pig cytochrome b (CYTB) gene, and bacterial DNA was detected using universal 16S primers. A pig CALP ELISA was used to assess gut inflammation. Dietary YPC significantly reduced feed conversion ratio (FCR) from weaning to day 14 (P0.05). Faecal CALP levels were significantly higher at day 14 compared with day 28, but there was no effect of YPC inclusion and no relationship with FCR. In conclusion, YPC reduced faecal CYTB DNA content and this correlated positively with FCR, but was unrelated to gut inflammation, suggesting that it could be a non-invasive marker of gut cell loss. However, further validation experiments by an independent method are required to verify the origin of pig faecal CYTB DNA as being from sloughed intestinal epithelial cells.


Slinger, K. R., Stewart, A. H., Daniel, Z. C. T. R., Hall, H., Masey O’Neill, H. V., Bedford, M. R., …Brameld, J. M. (2019). The association between faecal host DNA or faecal calprotectin and feed efficiency in pigs fed yeast-enriched protein concentrate. animal, 13(11), 2483-2491.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 18, 2019
Online Publication Date May 7, 2019
Publication Date May 7, 2019
Deposit Date May 30, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 31, 2019
Journal Animal
Print ISSN 1751-7311
Electronic ISSN 1751-732X
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 11
Pages 2483-2491
Keywords Gut; Swine; Faeces; Sloughing; cytochrome b
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information License: © The Animal Consortium 2019 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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