[Frontiers in Bioscience 2, d471-481, September 15, 1997]
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THE COLOSTRUM-DEPRIVED, ARTIFICIALLY-REARED, NEONATAL PIG AS A MODEL ANIMAL FOR STUDYING ROTAVIRUS GASTROENTERITIS 

Guillermo G. Gomez

Department of Animal Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7626 and Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Diseases, Chapel Hill and Raleigh, NC

Received 9/5/97 Accepted 9/10/97

2. INTRODUCTION

Gastrointestinal viral infections are common in young animals and humans and often are associated with enteritis and diarrhea (1, 2). Rotavirus infection is a major cause of severe diarrhea in children (3) as well as of neonatal diarrhea in several animal species worldwide (4). The main characteristics of rotavirus infections have been reviewed extensively (5, 6). The need for an animal model in which to study the pathogenesis, as well as the prevention and treatment of rotavirus gastroenteritis, has long been recognized (1). Because the porcine gastrointestinal tract and digestive physiology are very similar to that of humans, gnotobiotic (7 - 16) as well as conventional (17 - 22) pigs have been extensively used as model animals for their relevance to acute infantile diarrhea. Although rabbits (23, 24) and mice (25, 26) also have been used as model animals for studies related to rotaviral gastroenteritis, neonatal pigs appear to be the most suitable species for this type of research.

Our involvement in artificial rearing of pigs as well as in gastrointestinal research has led to the use of the colostrum-deprived, artificially-reared, neonatal pig as a model animal for studying rotaviral gastroenteritis in human infants. This paper is a review of the literature on the use of neonatal pigs in rotaviral gastroenteritis research along with a description of most of the experimental procedures which have been used in our model during the last decade including aspects related to procurement of colostrum-deprived neonatal pigs, immunological considerations of newborn pigs, feeding programs for artificial rearing of colostrum-deprived pigs with emphasis on their early post-natal period, rotavirus inoculation, assessment of clinical manifestations, and evaluation of intestinal damage during the post-inoculation period. The protocols of the research carried out at the NCSU Piglet Core, which are described herein, were approved by the NCSU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.