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Cytokine expression around weaning in piglets

The intestinal immune system has to provide mechanisms for induction of immune defence against pathogens and for the development of oral tolerance versus nutritional antigens. Two major compartments are present to provide these reactions: the normal mucosa and the organised lymphoid tissue e.g. isolated follicles and Peyer's patches. The freqency of Peyer's patches increases along the small intestine, in piglets in the terminal ileum a long continuous Peyer's patch is present. The regulation of the immune reactions is not known yet, especially the role of the intestinal mucosa and that of the Peyer's patches.

We therefore analysed the cytokine expression in the intestine. As methods RT-PCR and non-radioactive in-situ hybridisation for cytokine mRNA of IL2, IL4, Il10, IL12, IL18, gammaIFN, TNFalpha, TGFbeta were used. In jejunum, jejunal Peyer's patches, ileum and colon message of all inflammatory and non-inflammatory cytokines was present. After weaning the frequency of cells with transcripts was highest in the colon, fewer transcripts were detected in the ileum, in the jejunum few cells expressing cytokine mRNA were detected. Both, inflammatory and non-inflammatory cytokine mRNA was present in cells close to each other, as shown by the morphological analysis by in situ hybridisation.

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