Impact of yeast-derived β-glucans on the porcine gut microbiota and immune system in early life

Hugo de Vries, Mirelle Geervliet, Christine A. Jansen, Victor P.M.G. Rutten, Hubèrt van Hees, Natalie Groothuis, Jerry M. Wells, Huub F.J. Savelkoul, Edwin Tijhaar, Hauke Smidt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Piglets are susceptible to infections in early life and around weaning due to rapid environmental and dietary changes. A compelling target to improve pig health in early life is diet, as it constitutes a pivotal determinant of gut microbial colonization and maturation of the host’s immune system. In the present study, we investigated how supplementation of yeast-derived β-glucans affects the gut microbiota and immune function pre-and post-weaning, and how these complex systems develop over time. From day two after birth until two weeks after weaning, piglets received yeast-derived β-glucans or a control treatment orally and were subsequently vaccinated against Salmonella Typhimurium. Faeces, digesta, blood, and tissue samples were collected to study gut microbiota composition and immune function. Overall, yeast-derived β-glucans did not affect the vaccination response, and only modest effects on faecal microbiota composition and immune parameters were observed, primarily before weaning. This study demonstrates that the pre-weaning period offers a ‘window of opportunity’ to alter the gut microbiota and immune system through diet. However, the observed changes were modest, and any long-lasting effects of yeast-derived β-glucans remain to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1573
Number of pages24
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Early life
  • Gastro-intestinal tract
  • Gut microbiota
  • Immune system
  • Porcine
  • β-glucans


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