Heat Stress Reduces Intestinal Barrier Integrity and Favors Intestinal Glucose Transport in Growing Pigs

Sarah C. Pearce, Venkatesh Mani, Rebecca L. Boddicker, Jay S. Johnson, Thomas E. Weber, Jason W. Ross, Robert P. Rhoads, Lance H. Baumgard, Nicholas K. Gabler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


Excessive heat exposure reduces intestinal integrity and post-absorptive energetics that can inhibit wellbeing and be fatal. Therefore, our objectives were to examine how acute heat stress (HS) alters intestinal integrity and metabolism in growing pigs. Animals were exposed to either thermal neutral (TN, 21°C; 35-50% humidity; n = 8) or HS conditions (35°C; 24-43% humidity; n = 8) for 24 h. Compared to TN, rectal temperatures in HS pigs increased by 1.6°C and respiration rates by 2-fold (P<0.05). As expected, HS decreased feed intake by 53% (P<0.05) and body weight (P<0.05) compared to TN pigs. Ileum heat shock protein 70 expression increased (P<0.05), while intestinal integrity was compromised in the HS pigs (ileum and colon TER decreased; P<0.05). Furthermore, HS increased serum endotoxin concentrations (P = 0.05). Intestinal permeability was accompanied by an increase in protein expression of myosin light chain kinase (P<0.05) and casein kinase II-α (P = 0.06). Protein expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins in the ileum revealed claudin 3 and occludin expression to be increased overall due to HS (P<0.05), while there were no differences in claudin 1 expression. Intestinal glucose transport and blood glucose were elevated due to HS (P<0.05). This was supported by increased ileum Na+/K+ ATPase activity in HS pigs. SGLT-1 protein expression was unaltered; however, HS increased ileal GLUT-2 protein expression (P = 0.06). Altogether, these data indicate that HS reduce intestinal integrity and increase intestinal stress and glucose transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere70215
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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