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Dietary nucleotides improve the immune status of puppies at weaning

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Animals have a continuous requirement for nucleotides, especially for systems that present a high rate of cell turnover-like the immune system. Nucleotides may become conditionally essential nutrients under certain circumstances (e.g. weaning period) because endogenous synthesis may be insufficient to sustain normal function. In this case the immune function depends upon dietary nucleotide sources. The aim of the present study was to test the impact of a nucleotide supplement, specifically designed to mimic nucleotide composition in bitch's milk, on the immune function of weaned puppies. A total of 21 beagle puppies weaned at 8 weeks of age were allocated to three balanced groups and fed one of the following diets: standard commercial puppy diet (control diet); control diet supplemented with 900 p.p.m. of nucleotides or control diet supplemented with 1350 p.p.m. of nucleotides. One week later weaning puppies were vaccinated with an heptavalent vaccine. During the study blood samples were taken in order to analyse plasmatic concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), non-specific immunoglobulins and antibody titre against parvovirus. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) stimulation test was also performed. Supplemented groups showed higher antibody titre against parvovirus 14 days after vaccination and higher unspecific immunoglobulin levels. PBMC stimulation test at 35 days also showed higher results in the supplemented groups. CRP 1 day after vaccination and haematocrit after 35 days showed better results for the supplemented groups. In conclusion, dietary supplementation with nucleotides mimicking nucleotide composition of bitch's milk, improved the immune response capacity of puppies at weaning.
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Keywords: acute phase proteins; dietary nucleotides; immune status; lymphocite proliferation; puppies; weaning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Affinity Petcare S.A., Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain, and 2: Bioibérica S.A., Palafolls, Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: 01 April 2007

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