Feeding of the probiotic bacterium Enterococcus faecium NCIMB 10415 differentially affects shedding of enteric viruses in pigs
Effects of probiotic bacteria on viral infections have been described previously. Here, two groups of sows and their piglets were fed with or without feed supplementation of the probiotic bacterium Enterococcus faecium NCIMB 10415. Shedding of enteric viruses naturally occurring in these pigs was analyzed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. No differences between the groups were recorded for hepatitis E virus, encephalomyocarditis virus and norovirus. In contrast, astrovirus was exclusively detected in the non-supplemented control group. Rotavirus was shedded later and with lower amounts in the probiotic piglet group (p<0.05); rotavirus-shedding piglets gained less weight than non-infected animals (p<0.05). Serum titres of anti-rotavirus IgA and IgG antibodies were higher in piglets from the control group, whereas no difference was detected between sow groups. Phenotype analysis of immune cell antigens revealed significant differences of the CD4 and CD8 (p<0.05) as well as CD8 and CD25 (p<0.1) T cell populations of the probiotic supplemented group compared to the non-supplemented control group. In addition, differences were evident for CD21/MHCII-positive (p<0.05) and IgM-positive (p<0.1) B cell populations. The results indicate that probiotic bacteria could have effects on virus shedding in naturally infected pigs, which depend on the virus type. These effects seem to be caused by immunological changes; however, the distinct mechanism of action remains to be elucidated.