Int J Biol Sci 2013; 9(9):907-916. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6769 This issue

Research Paper

PBMC Transcription Profiles of Pigs with Divergent Humoral Immune Responses and Lean Growth Performance

Marcel Adler1, Eduard Murani1, Siriluck Ponsuksili2, Klaus Wimmers1✉

1. Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), Institute for Genome Biology, Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany
2. Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), Research Group Functional Genome Analysis, Dummerstorf, Germany

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Adler M, Murani E, Ponsuksili S, Wimmers K. PBMC Transcription Profiles of Pigs with Divergent Humoral Immune Responses and Lean Growth Performance. Int J Biol Sci 2013; 9(9):907-916. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6769. Available from

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Background: The identification of key genes and regulatory networks in the transcriptomic responses of blood cells to antigen stimulation could facilitate the understanding of host defence and disease resistance. Moreover, genetic relationships between immunocompetence and the expression of other phenotypes, such as those of metabolic interest, are debated but incompletely understood in farm animals. Both positive and negative associations between immune responsiveness and performance traits such as weight gain or lean growth have been reported.

We designed an in vivo microarray study of transcriptional changes in porcine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) during the immune response to tetanus toxoid (TT) as a model antigen for combined cellular (Th1) and humoral (Th2) responses. The aim of the study was to investigate the responsiveness of PBMCs against the background of divergent lean growth (LG) performance and anti-TT antibody (AB) titers and to compare lean growth and humoral immune performance phenotypes.

Results: In general, high LG phenotypes had increased cellular immune response transcripts, while low AB phenotypes had increased transcripts for canonical pathways that represented processes of intracellular and second messenger signaling and immune responses. Comparison of lean growth phenotypes in the context of high AB titers revealed higher cellular immune response transcripts in high LG phenotypes. Similar comparisons in the context of low AB titers failed to identify any corresponding pathways. When high and low AB titer phenotypes were differentially compared, low AB phenotypes had higher cellular immune response transcripts on a low LG background and higher cell signaling, growth, and proliferation transcripts on a high LG background.

Conclusions: Divergent phenotypes of both lean growth performance and humoral immune response are affected by significant and functional transcript abundance changes throughout the immune response. The selected high-performance phenotypes demonstrated both high AB titers and increased transcript abundance of cellular immune response genes, which were possibly offset by lower expression of other cellular functions. Further, indications of compensatory effects were observed between cellular and humoral immune responses that became visible only in low-performance phenotypes.

Keywords: leukocyte, porcine, microarray, pathway analysis, tetanus vaccination